Interesting Facts About Babe Ruth by Jonathan Weeks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jonathan Weeks will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BABE RUTH

–Ruth’s father was accidentally killed by a family member. George Ruth Sr. owned a number of taverns in Baltimore. While tending bar one day, a fight between two of his brother-in-laws erupted on the street outside. Ruth Sr. attempted to separate the two men, but ended up slamming his head on a curb and sustaining a fatal skull fracture.

–Ruth’s first wife, Helen, was killed in a house fire. The two were separated but still legally wed at the time. Since the fire took place under somewhat suspicious circumstances, Ruth was implicated as a suspect along with Helen’s boyfriend—a Boston dentist named Edward Kinder. In the wake of a formal investigation, both men were absolved of any guilt.

–Ruth worked tirelessly over the course of his career to interact with fans. In October of 1933, he actually visited a leper colony during a barnstorming tour of Hawaii. He did so against the wishes of his handlers.

–Ruth purchased a number of fancy sports cars during his playing days. He had little regard for the rules of the road, parking his vehicles wherever he pleased, driving them too fast, and smashing into things repeatedly. In 1917, he collided with a trolley car in Boston, derailing it. In July of 1920, he drove his expensive Packard off the road with his wife and several teammates in it. The vehicle flipped over, but no one was seriously hurt. In June of 1921, Ruth was stopped for speeding and arrested. Police officials released him from jail in time to appear in an evening game.

–Though Ruth was generally good-natured, he demonstrated his hot temper a number of times on the field. In 1922, he was thrown out of a game for tossing dirt at umpire George Hildebrand. After getting booed by fans, he climbed into the stands to confront two men who were heckling him. Unable to reach them, he jumped onto the roof of the Yankee dugout and challenged anyone in the crowd to a fight. There were no takers.

–Much has been made of Ruth’s alleged “called shot” off Cubs pitcher Charlie Root in the 1932 World Series. Few people are aware that he called one of his October shots four years earlier. Facing pitcher Bill Sherdel of the Cardinals in Game 4 of the 1928 World Series, the Babe engaged in some semi-friendly banter at the plate, bragging that he was going to deposit the next hittable pitch into the outfield seats. He made good on the boast, laughing all the way around the bases and waving mockingly to the St. Louis crowd.

–The use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball has generated a lot of controversy over the past several decades. But it is not a new problem. In the 1920s, team trainers began injecting players with a substance made from sheep’s testicles, which was said to increase stamina. Ruth agreed to give it a try, but he became severely ill after a single injection and abruptly ended the experiment.

More than seventy years after his death, Babe Ruth continues to fascinate generations of fans. His exciting adventures on and off the field have become essential reading for students of baseball and pop culture. While most Ruth biographies are filled with mundane facts, Lore of the Bambino is the equivalent of a greatest hits compilation. Ruth’s extraordinary (and at times incredulous) tales carry readers on an enthralling journey through the life of the most celebrated sports figure of the twentieth century. All of the most popular anecdotes (such as the Babe’s alleged “called shot” in the 1932 World Series) are thoroughly covered along with many lesser known narratives.

Enjoy an Excerpt

In the annals of baseball history, there has never been anyone quite like Babe Ruth. He transformed the game from a slow-moving battle of wits to an explosive exhibition of raw power. He could alter the final score with a single swing. When he retired in 1935, he owned dozens of statistical records. And his 714 homers were more than double the output of the next closest competitor.

Beyond the ballfield, Ruth was approachable, engaging, and jovial. He mingled with fans, autographed a myriad of baseballs, and befriended sportswriters. In an era when heroes were desperately needed, he fit the bill. He understood what he meant to people (especially children) and went out of his way to bring them joy.

As a role model, he was imperfect. He broke rules, got suspended, and struck out more than any other player of the era. But when the game was on the line, he almost always rose to the occasion, doing it in dramatic fashion. Over time, he became part god and part mortal—a mythical man-child who called his own shots and propelled baseballs farther than any player before or after him. He got more attention than U.S. Presidents and was just as newsworthy as a world war or economic depression. Everyone wanted a small piece of him. And everyone who met him had an interesting story to tell.

About the Author:A lifelong sports fan, Weeks has published several non-fiction books on the topic of baseball. Additionally, he has two novels to his credit–one of them a posthumous collaboration with his father. His latest project: Best of the Bruins: Boston’s All Time Great Players and Coaches, is due out in 2021.

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Young Players on the Rise in Boston by Jonathan Weeks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jonathan Weeks will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

YOUNG PLAYERS ON THE RISE IN BOSTON

Though none of them appear in my latest survey of the Bruins brightest stars, the following players may be featured in future volumes:

CHARLIE McAVOY
DEFENSE

He isn’t drawing frequent comparisons to Bobby Orr or Ray Bourque just yet, but McAvoy may be Boston’s defenseman of the future. In his 2017-’18 debut, he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. McAvoy has excellent speed, handles the puck well and is capable of laying devastating hits on opponents. In 2019-‘20, he reached a career-high of 27 assists—pretty impressive for a twenty-two year-old.

TRENT FREDERIC
CENTER

Born in St. Louis, Frederic played both football and hockey in high school. During his days at the University of Wisconsin, he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He led the Badgers with 17 goals and 15 assists during his sophomore campaign. In 2018, he signed a contract with the Bruins. Called up for the first time in 2018, he has become a regular in the Boston lineup. A spirited player with great speed, the Bruins believe he may be destined for bigger and better things.

BRANDON CARLO
DEFENSE

A Colorado native, Carlo played for the University of Denver before aspiring to the NHL. Entering his fifth season with the Bruins, he has accrued a plus-58 rating so far. He is one of Boston’s top shot blockers. Solidly built at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, he handles himself well on the ice. Though he doesn’t appear in the scoring column terribly often, he has elevated his offensive game over the past two seasons. He was twenty-four years-old at the start of the 2021 season.

MATT GRZELCYK
DEFENSE

Hailing from Massachusetts, Grzelcyk was a major star for Boston University, where he served as team captain in his junior and senior years. His overtime goal lifted the Terriers to their thirtieth Beanpot Tournament victory. Currently in his fourth full season with the B’s, Grzelcyk is a tireless grinder and is gradually finding his scoring touch. He had 20 points in 37 games with Boston during the 2021 regular season. He avoids the penalty box in spite of his physical play.

CONNOR CLIFTON
DEFENSE

Clifton grew up in Matawan, New Jersey. He attended Quinnipiac University, where he was named to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team during each of his four seasons. Originally drafted by the Coyotes, he was signed by the Bruins in May of 2018. He played his first full season with Boston in 2021, finishing among the team leaders in hits and blocked shots. In spite of his modest size (5-foot-11, 175 pounds), he plays a very physical game. He has received glowing praise for his “attack mentality.”

JEREMY SWAYMAN
GOALIE

Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, Swayman helped the U.S. team to a Bronze Medal in the 2018 World Junior Championships. He spent three years at the University of Maine, where he was named to three consecutive All-Star teams. In 2020, he was among the most decorated college players, capturing Hockey East Goaltender of the Year and Player of the Year honors. He also won the Mike Richter Award, which is given to the NCAA’s top collegiate goalie. After his junior year of college, he was signed by the Bruins. In April of 2021, he was called to Boston to substitute for Jaroslav Halak, who tested positive for Covid-19. In 10 starts, Swayman compiled a 7-3 record with a 1.50 goals against average. His quick reflexes and superb puck-tracking skills have impressed coaches and teammates. Fans in Boston are already talking about him becoming the successor to future Hall of Famer Tuukka Rask.

JEREMY LAUZON
DEFENSE 

Born in Val-d’Or, Quebec, Lauzon was selected by the Bruins in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Upon finishing his junior hockey career with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, he joined the Bruins’ minor league affiliate in Providence. As of 2021, he appears to have found a permanent home in the NHL. Lauzon is a big guy at 6-feet-2, 210 pounds and he hits hard. He doesn’t hesitate to block shots or trade punches with opponents if he is challenged. Extremely mobile on defense, he has an active stick and remarkable on-ice vision. Those qualities have earned him the respect of Bruins’ head coach Bruce Cassidy. At twenty-three years of age, he may have a very bright future ahead of him.

Among the “original six” NHL clubs to survive the Great Depression, the Boston Bruins have a vibrant history. Entering the 2020-’21 campaign, the team ranked fourth all-time with six Stanley Cup championships. Some of the most gifted players in NHL history have skated for the Bruins over the years. Best of the Bruins: Boston’s All-Time Great Players and Coaches tells the individual stories of the players and coaches who have helped make the Bruins perennial contenders for close to a century. Profiles of current players are included in this sweeping survey.

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Brad Marchand

In spite of the team’s efforts to protect him, Marchand has repeatedly engaged in outrageous behavior on the ice. His most reprehensible acts include a low-bridge hit on Sami Salo of the Canucks that left the Vancouver defenseman with a concussion and a spearing penalty incurred for deliberately hitting Tampa Bay blue-liner Jake Dotchin in the crotch with his stick. Entering the 2019-‘20 campaign, Marchand had half a dozen suspensions to his credit in addition to multiple fines.

In spite of his incorrigible antics, Marchand has been an indispensible member of the Bruins top scoring line, which also features David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. The trio, which has been dubbed “The Perfection Line” by sportswriters, averaged well over 200 points per year between 2016-’17 and 2019-’20. Marchand was the team’s top point producer in three of those seasons. Not only does he score goals in bunches, but he scores them in timely fashion. In November of 2019, he set a franchise record with his 26th short-handed goal. And by January of 2020, he had attained a rank of #6 among the Bruins all-time leaders in game-winning goals. His efforts earned him a pair of Seventh Player Awards in 2011 and 2016. But outside of Boston, he is largely viewed as a criminal.

Asked about his tarnished professional image, Marchand told a reporter: “It’s tough. I’ve tried for awhile now to get away from that role and I just can’t seem to escape it. I think obviously if you look back on the last few years, I’ve turned into a decent player and it’s tough to be branded with that name consistently. Obviously, it’s from my own doing but it’s tough to escape it. Devil’s advocate there, it’s what I had to do to get into the league so I’ll never say that I wouldn’t go back and play the same way.”

About the Author:A lifelong sports fan, Weeks has published several non-fiction books on the topic of baseball. Additionally, he has two novels to his credit–one of them a posthumous collaboration with his father. His latest project: Best of the Bruins: Boston’s All Time Great Players and Coaches, is due out in 2021.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

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UMPIRES OF THE OLD SCHOOL: TIM HURST by Jonathan Weeks – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jonathan Weeks will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

UMPIRES OF THE OLD SCHOOL: TIM HURST
At 5-foot-5, the diminutive Hurst was known to some as “Tiny Tim.” But true to the words of an iconic Star Wars character, he proved that “size matters not.” The pugnacious Hurst was known to keep players under control with both words and fists. Hailed by a writer from the The Sporting Life for “having the finest brand of keen-cutting, kill-at-a-thousand-yards sarcasm of any umpire in captivity,” his fiery temperament would eventually drive him out of baseball.

Born to Irish parents in Ashland, Pennsylvania, Hurst learned to fight at an early age. His father worked in the wholesale liquor business then purchased a horse and wagon to deliver coal. Young Tim was expected to help support the family and, as a youth, he picked slate for a local mining establishment. Rounds of fisticuffs were common among workers during lunch hours and Hurst was sometimes in the mix. His love of boxing led to multiple stints as a fight referee in the years that followed.

At twenty-two years of age, Hurst became a professional umpire in the Central Pennsylvania League. He called plays in the Southern League and Western Association before taking a job as manager of the Minneapolis Millers. The Millers came close to winning a championship on his watch, but Hurst failed to endear himself to club executives and ended up being replaced. In 1891, he joined the umpiring crew of the National League.

Hurst was well-suited to the rowdy days of early baseball. Hall of Fame arbiter Bill Klem recalled: “[Hurst] was so tough that if a ballplayer did not like one of his decisions and challenged him on the field, Tim would say ‘OK, we’ll stop the game and go right under the stands and settle it now.’”

With a reputation for making highly accurate decisions, Hurst had an interesting way of maintaining order behind the plate. “Never put a catcher out of a game,” he told a New York Herald reporter. “If the man in back of the bat is sassy and objects to your calling of balls and strikes, keep close behind him while doing your work and kick him every time he reaches out to catch a ball. After about the third kick, he’ll shut up.”

Sometimes Hurst’s feisty temperament led to amusing results. According to historian Fred Lieb, Hurst made a call that went against Cincinnati’s third baseman, Arlie Latham, one day. Latham tore off his glove and kicked it in protest. It landed at the feet of Hurst, who promptly kicked it right back to Latham. The festivities didn’t end there. According to Lieb: “taking turns, Arlie and Tim booted the glove all the way to the outfield fence.”

On a number of occasions, Hurst’s outbursts were less than entertaining. In 1897, he was arrested in Cincinnati after he picked up a beer stein that had been tossed onto the field by an angry fan and whipped it back into the stands. The projectile hit a local fireman named James Cartuyvelles, opening a deep gash over his eye. Several years later, Hurst got into a physical altercation with New York Highlanders manager Clark Griffith during an on-field dispute. Though Griffith denied being punched when questioned afterward, his swollen lip lent little credence to that claim. Both men were suspended for five games.

In addition to his violent outbursts, Hurst was known to generate prolific streams of profanity. In 1900, multiple NL owners requested that he be banned from their ballparks due to his “ungentlemanly language.” The final straw for Hurst came on August 3, 1909. During the second game of a doubleheader between the A’s and White Sox in Philadelphia, Hurst made an uncharacteristically erroneous call on Eddie Collins. Collins was evidently safe at second base, but Hurst ruled him out, believing there had been some sort of interference on the play. When Collins protested, Hurst resorted to reprehensible behavior. In the colorful language of Philadelphia North American sportswriter, Jimmy Isaminger: “…the umpire distributed a mouthful of moistened union-made tobacco in the direction of youthful Eddie, who immediately called Tim’s attention to the Board of Health ordinance which prohibits expectorating in public places.” Fans went ballistic, throwing cushions and bottles in Hurst’s direction after the game. It took police nearly half an hour to safely escort the embattled arbiter out of the stadium.

After a full investigation of the spitting incident, Hurst was fired by AL President Ban Johnson. He had already tested Johnson’s patience earlier in the season when he traded punches with infielder Kid Elberfeld. Few sportswriters were terribly surprised by the outcome. A correspondent from The Sporting Life remarked: “Umpire Tim Hurst’s excessive pugnacity has at last landed him outside the major league breastworks—as had long been expected.”

Cast out of baseball, Hurst turned to other sports as a promoter. He later made a living selling real estate. In 1915, he died suddenly after a bout with food poisoning. He had been ill for some time before then though his condition was not considered terribly serious.

In the words of former American League umpire Nestor Chylak, umpires are expected to “be perfect on the first day of the season and then get better every day.” Forced to deal with sullen managers and explosive players, they often take the blame for the failures of both. But let’s face it—umpires are only human.

For well over a century, the fortunes of Major League teams—and the fabric of baseball history itself—have been dramatically affected by the flawed decisions of officials. While the use of video replay in recent decades has reduced the number of bitter disputes, many situations remain exempt from review and are subject to swirling controversy. In the heat of the moment mistakes are often made, sometimes with monumental consequences.

Enjoy an Excerpt

…The World Series opened in Pittsburgh with a convincing 4-1 Washington victory. The Pirates bounced back in Game 2, surviving a late Senators rally to win, 3-2. The third meeting took place in the nation’s capital, where the sale of more than thirty-six thousand tickets necessitated the construction of temporary bleachers at Griffith Stadium. Braving the elements on a cold, breezy Saturday afternoon, President Calvin Coolidge was among those in attendance.

The two teams pecked away at each other through six innings, scattering runs here and there. Facing right-hander Ray Kremer, the Senators loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh. First baseman Joe Judge—a fixture in the Washington lineup for over a decade—drove in Earl McNeely with a sacrifice fly. Right fielder Joe Harris followed with a single, putting the Senators up, 4-3.

Looking to protect the lead, Washington player/manager Bucky Harris implemented a defensive switch, moving Rice to right field from center to accommodate McNeely, who had been inserted as a pinch-runner. Firpo Marberry, the game’s first prominent relief specialist, was summoned from the bullpen. The Senators appeared to be safe from harm when Marberry struck out shortstop Glenn Wright and first baseman George Grantham in succession. But things got interesting when catcher Earl Smith came to bat.

Smith’s .313 average during the regular season was second best in the majors among players with at least ninety-five appearances behind the plate. A spirited brawler who rarely backed down from a challenge, Smith drove Marberry’s 2-2 offering to deep right field, where Rice sprang into action. The wide-ranging outfielder sprinted toward the ball and made a back-handed stab in front of the temporary bleachers. Unable to stop his forward momentum, he tumbled over the barrier into the stands and disappeared from view. What happened in the next few seconds remains uncertain.

In those days, umpiring crews consisted of four men with one being assigned to each infield station. Attending to second base that day, veteran arbiter Cy Rigler rushed to the scene to make the call. Several seconds passed before Rice reappeared. Years later, an eyewitness remarked that “it was longer than a TV station break with eight consecutive commercials.” Another spectator—a man named Norman Budesheim—claimed that Rice dropped the ball before he landed and then jostled with fans for possession. Whatever the case, Rice had the ball in his glove when he finally rose to his feet. Rigler signaled for the out and, after a lengthy discussion, his decision was supported by the rest of the crew.

On the heels of the Senators’ 4-3 win, more than 1,600 fans wrote to commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to relay their side of the story. Some even sent notarized affidavits attesting to the fact that Rice had dropped the ball. Going straight to the source, Landis summoned Rice to his hotel the following day and asked him point-blank if he had made the catch. The tight-lipped Hall of Famer replied guardedly: “Judge, the umpire said I did.” Landis mulled this over for a few seconds and responded: “”Sam, let’s leave it that way.”

About the Author:Weeks spent most of his life in the Capital District region of New York State. He earned a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, NY. He continues to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures to the present day. He has published several books on the topic of baseball. He would have loved to play professionally, but lacked the talent. He still can’t hit a curve ball or lay off the high heat. In the winter months, he moonlights as a hockey fan.

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