Synopses & Reviews
Game Three of the 1932 World Series between the Cubs and Yankees stood locked at 4-4. Some 50,000 fans had gathered at Wrigley Field that bright October day, but above their roar Ruth heard insults pouring from the Cubs' dugout. He watched a fastball from Cubs pitcher Charlie Root set the count at 2-2. Agitated, the Bambino made a gesture, holding out two fingers—but what did it mean? Lou Gehrig heard him call out: "I'm going to knock the next one down your goddamn throat." Then the game's greatest showman pounded Root's next pitch. The ball whizzed past the centerfield scoreboard and began its long journey into history. In an instant, the legend of the Called Shot was born, the debate about what Ruth actually did still dividing fans and sports historians alike more than 80 years later. Deftly placing the homer in the social and economic contexts of the time, Chicago sportswriter Ed Sherman gives us the first full-length, in-depth look at one of baseball's most celebrated and enduring moments—including the incredible stories of two hand-held videos taken by fans and rediscovered decades later—and answers the question: Did Ruth really call his shot?
The anticipation of another showdown with the Bambino transformed Wrigley Field. Temporary bleachers held the overflow of the 50,000-strong crowd that bright September day. Game 3 of the 1932 World Series between the Cubs and Yankees stood locked at 4-4. An angry mob, rocking the ballpark with pent-up fury, aimed itself squarely at him. He had never experienced anything like it. But above the almost deafening noise, the slugger could hear the tide of barbs pouring at him from the Cubs’ dugout. They called him a busher, a fat slob, and other names not fit to print at the time. He took the first pitch for a strike, stepped out of the box, and collected himself. Cubs pitcher Charlie Root threw two balls, and Ruth watched a fastball cut the corner to set the count at 2 and 2. On the on-deck circle, Lou Gehrig heard Ruth call out to Root: “I’m going to knock the next one down your goddamn throat.” Ruth took a deep breath, raised his arm, and held out two fingers toward centerfield. As Root wound up, the crowd roared in expectation. It was a change-up curve, low and away, but it came in flat and without bite. The ball compressed on impact with Ruth’s bat and began its long journey into history, whizzing past the centerfield flag pole. No one had ever gone that far at Wrigley—not even Cubs hitter Hack Wilson. Estimates put its distance at nearly 500 feet. Ruth practically sprinted around the bases. Video cameras of the day raced to catch up with him, his teammates cracking that they hadn’t seen him run that fast in a long time. Then he flashed four fingers at the Cubs infielders and their dugout: The series was going to be over in four games. In that moment, the legend of the Called Shot was born, but the debate over what Ruth had actually done on the afternoon of October 1, 1932, had just begun.
About the Author
Ed Sherman, a longtime Chicago Tribune writer, reports on sports media for his highly acclaimed website, ShermanReport.com. The winner of numerous awards, he has written two books, and his work has appeared in Crain's Chicago Business, ESPN.com, Golf World, and The Sporting News. He lives in Highland Park, Illinois, with his wife and two sons.