Jane Leavy, the author of New York Times bestsellers Sandy Koufax, a Lefty’s Legacy, and The Last Boy, Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, takes on baseball’s greatest legend in The Big Fella, a biography of Babe Ruth published this week by HarperCollins. Using the 21-day barnstorming tour that Ruth took with Lou Gehrig following their 1927 season as a prism, Leavy not only brings the Bambino to life but also provides new insights into just how much he meant to baseball and America. There’s one story, however, that she had to leave out of the book. And here it is: The legend of the piano at the bottom of The Curse of the Bambino. On Thursday, the Red Sox advanced to the World Series for the fourth time in the 21st century, proof positive that The Curse is dead.
So, about that piano. The upright one that Babe Ruth hurled into legend and the once-pristine waters of Willis Pond in Sudbury, Massachusetts, a redoubt favored by the likes of Henry David Thoreau, Red Sox revelers, Jewish mobsters and teenage boys evading parental oversight.
“Did you dig up anything on the piano?”
That’s what everyone wanted to know when I began work on “The Big Fella, Babe Ruth and the World He Created.” That and, “Why another book about the Babe?” After eight years on the job, I had a ready reply to the former: “To extricate the truth of the piano from the muck and murk of history.”
It was a deep dive.