Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Babe Ruth, Baseball Boy

by Robin Spano

I found this book when I was four. I was exploring around my dad's office. He worked for a construction company and there was a room of stuff—furniture, art, books, etc.—that they used to stage houses.

I wasn't into sports, but I was hooked by this story—written for kids—about a 7-year-old boy from a rough background who ran wild through the streets of Baltimore until his parents made the tough call to send him to an all boys residential school.

I probably shouldn't admit to taking the book home. (I didn't realize I was stealing from my dad's employer.) But I stayed glued to the pages and probably no one thought to ask where I'd picked up the book.

At St. Mary's school, George (Babe Ruth's real name) found a mentor who helped him focus. I loved the life
lessons from this era (things like “sloppy work doesn't pay—it costs you time in the long run when you have to go back and fix your mistakes”). They were both simplistic and profound, and they were told in a way that my four-year-old mind could digest. I felt like I was learning about the world along with George.

Ultimately, it was a story of triumph. I read this book over and over again, and I never failed to be excited when Jack Dunn recruited George for the Baltimore Orioles, and when George set the world home run record for a season, beat his own record a few years later, then beat it again with a record that stood for 34 years.

After this, I read biographies of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and others. I started rooting for the Yankees, collecting baseball cards, and going to games whenever I could. But at least once a year, until I was twelve or thirteen, I cracked open Babe Ruth, Baseball Boy and read it again from cover to cover.


Reece said...

Great story, Robin! I love that you still have that book.

Robin Spano said...

Maybe I should give it back to my dad's old boss. I still know him...