Lore of the Bambino
by Jonathan Weeks
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.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
My favorite athletes have always been the ones who are all-stars both on and off the field. I am a fan of all sports with a particular interest in baseball and hockey. Though I have rooted for many players over the years, I would have to say that Bobby Orr is my hands-down favorite.
Orr is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest hockey defensemen of all time. He played portions of twelve seasons in the NHL, spending ten years with the Boston Bruins. When he arrived in Beantown, the B’s had not won a Stanley Cup in more than two decades. Using his speed, play-making abilities, and remarkable on-ice awareness, Orr helped transform the Bruins from non-contenders to world champions. In spite of crippling injuries to his knees, Orr made nine consecutive all-star appearances and won eight Norris Trophies (given annually to the league’s best defenseman). The Bruins made eight playoff appearances with “Number 4” in the lineup and won a pair of Stanley Cups. Orr’s tie-breaking overtime goal in the final game of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals is considered one of the most iconic moments in Bruins history. When he retired, the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the standard waiting period, inducting him in 1979.
Orr never basked in the spotlight during his playing days. After Bruins victories, he would often hide in the trainer’s room and avoid reporters so that his teammates could receive due credit. More than just a player, Orr became a hero to the New England masses and a legend to hockey fans outside his primary fan base. Embracing his status as a role model, he once said, “We’re professional athletes. People know who we are and if there’s some way we can help with a friend or someone in need, that’s a responsibility we have. I strongly believe that.” In an era of stratospheric salaries and self-absorbed athletes, those words are rare indeed. After his career, Orr was involved in a number of charitable endeavors, working with the Boston Children’s Hospital and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 1980, he received a humanitarian award for his “numerous and unselfish contributions to society.”
Other athletes I feel deserve mention as all-around great people include the following:
Among the top players in women’s tennis for many years, Williams won 23 Grand Slam titles—the most by any player of the Open Era. Off the court, she serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF. She also founded the Serena Williams Foundation, which helps impoverished children get into college.
Generally considered one of the best forwards in the NBA, the 6-foot-9 James has played in 18 All-Star Games and averaged 27.1 points per game during his career so far. He helped three different teams to playoff appearances and is a 4-time NBA champion. Away from basketball, he has been an active supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He also established the Lebron James Foundation, which raises and donates money to a wide variety of charities that help at-risk kids.
Known as “Big Papi” to adoring Red Sox fans, the Dominican-born Ortiz helped the team to three World Series titles. Among the most productive designated hitters in MLB history, he slammed 541 homers during the regular season and added 17 more in postseason play. He will be enshrined at Cooperstown this year. Ortiz’s greatest hits off the field include the establishment of the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which provides support for kids in the US and Dominican Republic who can’t afford necessary cardiac services. In 2008, Ortiz received the UNICEF Children’s Champion Award.
Few fans would argue that Jeter was the best shortstop in Yankee history. A 14-time all-star, he helped the Yanks to five World Series titles. Along the way, he gathered 3,465 hits—sixth on the all time list. In 1996, he founded the Turn 2 Foundation, which raises roughly $1 million every year to help educate children and provide resources for healthy living.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.
Jonathan Weeks will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.