Sunday Stories: Major League Memoirs #8 – “The Big Bam” by Leigh Montville

6 08 2017

I originally set out to do this post back on February 5th – which was believed to be Babe Ruth’s birthday for a long time (later they found out he was born on 2/6/1895 – a day less than a year earlier than originally believed).  I started the book in mid-January, put it down for a while due to life being hectic, and then picked it back up and finished it in May.  Then more hectic life – finally, I’m doing the post for it today!  

If you count the book about the first All-Star game, Ruth has been the primary subject for half of the 8 baseball books I’ve read over the past 2+ years.  I find his life fascinating, which is probably why I’ve read so many books about his life.

Title/Author/Publisher: “The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth” by Leigh Montville (Random House, 2006, 416 pages)

Description:  There have been a lot of Babe Ruth biographies – and as I mentioned, I’ve read a few.  After reading this one, I still think the one by Robert Creamer is still the definitive one – even though (or maybe because) it was released 43 years ago.

So it may have been a bit overzealous to read this particular book.  And frankly, that probably factored in to why I picked it up and put it down.  But once I dove back in, this was a great book.  To be clear, it doesn’t hide from the fact that there were a lot of previous books released.  It uses the research done on the Bambino, trying to put the pieces together.  And it acknowledges that there was so much about this man’s life that we just don’t know for sure – “the fog sets in”.  We know what Babe Ruth did on the diamond.  But we just don’t know that much about his personal life.  For example, his daughter that he raised with his first wife was clearly not his first wife’s child.  But it does appear that Dorothy was in fact his biological daughter.  The book points this out, and moves on (appropriately) to more important things.

It’s been a while since I finished this book, which isn’t ideal as I would probably be able to give some more nuances if I had been more active on the blog and written this 2.5 months ago when I finished the book.  One thing I distinctly remember is that “The Big Bam” delved into Christy Walsh much more than the other books I’ve read.  Walsh was basically Ruth’s PR man – kind of the first personal PR man in American sports history!

My review:  So all that said, I really enjoyed this book.  Again, if you could read one Babe Ruth book – read Creamer’s.  If you can read two – read this one next.

Other Notable nuggets:  One tidbit I found interesting enough to jot down – near the end of his career, Ruth played against a group of Cuban All-Stars, facing off against Luis Tiant, Sr.  The father of the famous Red Sox pitcher from the 70’s.  I feel like you can’t make this stuff up.

1980 The Franchise Babe Ruth Classic #61





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #78 – Goose Island Goatbusters

29 04 2017

More Chicago baseball beers.  I kind of forgot about this beer, but Goose Island came out with a beer when the Cubs officially “broke the curse”.  If you know anything about the curse of the Billy Goat – it wasn’t exorcised when the Cubs won the World Series.  That happened when the team made it to the Series.  This beer came out at that point – when the Cubs were playing the Indians.

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, IL

The brewery has been 100% owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev since 2011.

Beer:  Goatbusters

Description:  This stout was brewed at the brewpub on Clybourn, which is actually closed right now.  It’s described as having an onyx color, pine and coffee aroma, chocolate and hop resin flavor, toasty finish.  From what I remember, that’s about right.  My wife and I brought the kids down to Wrigley on the Saturday morning before game 4 to get some nice pictures.  We hit the brewpub up for lunch, and I tried this beer.

Medium:  This was only available on draft at the Clybourn brewpub.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s brewed in honor of the Cubs ending the “Curse of the Billy Goat” when they beat the Dodgers to make the club’s first World Series in 72 years.  It’s also a reference to celebrity fan Billy Murray, who was one of the stars of Ghostbusters.





Pearl Jam 1991 Topps Style – Wrigley Field

25 04 2017

1 month and 1 day since my last post.  This may be the new norm, though I hope to have a few posts this week.  4 for the 4th month?  Possible.

I meant to post this about 2 months ago, but when I bought the set on eBay it was one card short.  I honestly didn’t feel like calling out the seller for one card (though this is unlikely – I’m not entirely convinced I didn’t somehow throw away the package with a card still in it).  So I had to find the one card I still needed before I could call this “finito”.

I posted a while ago about a pack of cards that were handed out for Pearl Jam’s concert in Fenway Park.  I bought the whole set for Wrigley Field.  Unlike playing in Fenway, this one hits home for PJ – lead singer Eddie Vedder is a huge Cubs fan and became their associated celebrity fan along with Bill Murray over the past decade-plus.  I still remember when I lived in Wrigleyville in 2013, Pearl Jam had their first concert back there.  I didn’t get tickets (a number of friends did), but I listened to them from my porch.

Each band member has 10 cards total.  9 cards of them playing on a set, and one card in a Cubbie uniform.

There’s also a card for Rob Skinner (who I think is/was a manager for band).  Showing off the palm ball.

On the back of his card, it has the full picture of the puzzle you can put together using the backs of the band member’s cards.

Yeah, like I said, there’s a huge puzzle if you put the backs of the cards together.  It took me two nights to accomplish this.

Now I had issues in part because of my own stupidity, but also because it’s tough to put together a puzzle when all of the cards are the same shape and a few of them are exactly the same on the back (all black).  But I also left the 6 cards above on the scanner, so that made it more confusing.  They constitute the cards on the right side of the puzzle.

So on night 1, I got annoyed, put the 54 cards away, and started over the next night.  Not the best way to get back in to baseball card posting!

The second night, I did figure it out.  Here it is in all its glory.

There are also 6 stickers for each band member – so this “set” ends up taking up a 67 cards in my binders for this type of thing.

I think these stickers are the same across both the Wrigley and Fenway sets.





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #77 – Hop Butcher Good Ryes Wear Black

18 02 2017

Chicago seems to have a lot of baseball specific beers.  I think it’s that Chicago just has a ton of breweries and in the craft beer desire to find as many different themes and logos as you can, you’re bound to have some baseball overlap.  There aren’t nearly as many football beers, though.

Hop Butcher is a pretty small craft brewer.  They don’t even have their own brewery (yet) – they contract brew out of a local place.

hop-butcher-good-ryes

Brewery:  Hop Butcher for the World in Chicago, IL

Beer:  Good Ryes Wear Black

Description:  “In Chicago, the good guys wear black, so we dedicated our darkest beer to them. This one is scandalously spicy, built on a foundation of the finest malts and unscrupulously hopped with Chinook, Cascade and Citra. It’s so good you’d think your tongue was on the take.”

Unlike some beers you might expect to find at the ballpark, this one isn’t brewed with corn to be a golden color and filter right through you.  This is a nice, solid, roasty, malty batch of goodness!  Hop Butcher for the World is formerly known as South Loop Brewing; they changed their name about a year ago to have an even cooler Chicago-related brewery name.  This one pays homage to the poem by Carl Sandburg from the early 1900’s (“Hog Butcher of the World).

Medium:  When they were South Loop brewing, I think it was available in 22-ounce “bombers”.  Now they release them in 16-oz cans which I think is a better medium.  I got a 4-pack this summer and just finished my last one.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s sold at U.S. Cellular Field and has a bunch of old-school baseball players on the logo.  I’m a Reds fan whose kids root for the Cubs, but I appreciate some South-siders staying true to their team!





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #76 – Pipeworks Goat Collector

21 01 2017

Almost 6 years later – this is post #1700 for me.  I used to do something sepcial for these posts, but now only do it every 500 or so.  But I try to point them out if I remember!

Living in Chicago, there was a bunch of celebration surrounding the first win in 100 years.  There were a lot of beers made in that celebration.  Pipeworks, the relatively young craft brewery that has become incredibly popular around these part, joined in.

pipeworks-goat-collector

 

Brewery:  Pipeworks Brewing Co. in Chicago, IL

pipeworks-goat-collector-bottleBeer:  Goat Collector

Description:  “Goat collector doppelbock is getting brewed this Saturday!  We’re taking tomorrow off to go to the Cubs parade!!”  This beer is quite different from the standard beer I’ll do for one of these baseball + beer posts.  It’s a doppelbock, which is a double version of a bock beer.  Which means it’s malty and dark, not hoppy whatsoever.

It’s not a beer you drink at a baseball game.  But it is a beer you can drink in revelry after 108 years of no titles!

I had it; it’s a very nice doppel.  Was a good beer I shared with my wife over dinner.

Medium:  This beer was available in 22-ounce “bombers” throughout Chicago.  You could also find in on tap at certain locations.  I got the bomber.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s a beer brewed in honor of the Cubs winning the World Series.  And breaking the curse of the billy-goat.  It has goat skulls on the label.





Pearl Jam Fenway pack (2016)

17 01 2017

I did a couple other fun purchases last year that I’ve been meaning to post about.  This one is a pack of cards from a Pearl Jam concert.  Pearl Jam has done concerts at Wrigley Field a few times – Eddie Vedder is an unabashed Cubs fan who penned the theme for the Cubs hope before they went “All the Way” in 2016.

They passed out cards in 2013 at the first concert back to Wrigley, and in 2016 Pearl Jam played in Fenway Park as well.  They did a similar set there.  The concert had 2 dates – August 5th & 7th.

pearl-jam-fenway-pack

I bought a pack of the Fenway cards on eBay a little after the concert.  Each pack has 10 cards that are done in the design of 1991 Topps.

pearl-jam-fenway-concert-set

pearl-jam-fenway-concert-set-2

In addition to those 10 cards, you get a sticker that resembles an old school tobacco card:

pearl-jam-fenway-sticker-boom-gaspar

There are 60 card in the regular set, and they form a puzzle on the back.  There are 6 stickers, and then there’s a card of Rob Skinner that has a photo of the full puzzle on the back.

Unlike Chicago, Boston isn’t home for any of the band members – so they’re just doing this as baseball fans who happen to be rock stars.  I bought the full Wrigley set tonight when I found a good deal on it.  Haven’t been able to do so for Boston, but I’ll post about the Wrigley set when I get it and hopefully I can complete the Boston set at some point.





Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #75 – Goose Island #FlyTheW

7 01 2017

For my next “Saturday Suds”, I went with another Cubs celebration beer.  And another Goose Island beer.

goose-island-flythew-board

Brewery: Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, IL

The brewery has been 100% owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev since 2011.

goose-island-flythewBeer:  #FlyTheW

Description:  “Bubbly! A champagne inspired beer to celebrate a World Championship! 108 years in the making.”  It’s a Belgian Strong Golden Ale.  I get the champagne comparison, but there’s also a lot of Belgian yeast in there that gives it a unique taste.  It was definitely good, though.

Medium:  This beer was only available on tap at the Goose Island taproom on Fulton Street a little west of downtown Chicago.  I had it during a trip Brewpub, which is how I drank it.  You can’t buy it in stores, and it’s not even at Goose Island’s other brewpub in Clybourn.  It’s no longer mentioned anywhere on their website – I think they had it on tap for a little less than a month after the Cubs won the World Series.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s a beer brewed in honor of the Cubs winning the World Series.