The Called Shot is not just a book about Babe Ruth and the game that served as a turning point in baseball. It is a book about one of the golden eras of baseball, featuring a cast of characters that all made decisions which led to the fateful pitch and ultimate swing by Babe Ruth. A casual fan of baseball may not understand the intricacies of the sport as laid out in this title. Most sports have managers and owners, staff that support the team, but baseball has a long history of incredible supporting roles. We all know who Babe Ruth is, but how many of us know Roger Hornsby, one of the most feared batters of all time? How many of us know Charlie Root, the player that pitched to Babe Ruth in this at bat? I believe this is the brilliance of the book, readers must wait until the precipice of the book to read about the titular event. The author has packaged this narrative into a tightly written story that flows from one person to the next, one subject to another, until the ultimate conclusion of ‘the called shot’, supplying context along the way.
I particularly enjoyed the author’s candid treatment of the subject at-bat. He relates that Ruth pointed somewhere in the vicinity of a distant location, above the pitcher’s head, maybe in the outfield, the historical record is hard to decipher in this situation. Through the book, the author presents chapter after chapter of well-researched, interesting text that shines a light on the inner workings of baseball in this period. From the endnotes, the reader can glimpse the thorough research that went into this book.
The author explores every facet of the game from umpires to relief pitchers and everything in between. The interplay between the league, the management of the teams, and the players is carefully examined in a narrative and engaging way throughout the course of the story. This is a work of history that captures the spirit of baseball and stays as close to the truth as possible. Readers will identify that the author has thoroughly researched this work, though not on the level of a historical monograph. This is a captivating look at baseball in the era of Babe Ruth.
Overall, this is a great read and a fantastic title from the University of Nebraska Press and Thomas Wolf. I would recommend to any fan of both history and baseball, or someone who is interested in this period and is not necessarily a baseball fan. This is a great book for a reader interested in learning more about baseball in the summer of 1932.
I received a galley copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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