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?
A Christian Science Monitor Must-Read Baseball Book
"Highly entertaining and fascinating ... If you know a baseball fan, it's a perfect gift. ... You'll have to read about it yourself."
"A fun and accessible history of the Called Shot story."
"A masterpiece. Ed Sherman has knocked one out of the park. ... A treasure for believers and cynics alike. ... I devoured the pages the way the Babe woofed down hotdogs ... with a feeling that I had taken a wild 1930s-style train trip from New York to Chicago. ... Sherman has achieved a truly Ruthian feat just in collecting the scores of viewpoints from sports writers, witnesses, Cubs, Yankees. But he goes further to examine carefully all the little nuances that have made the Called Shot perhaps the most enduring legend in sports for more than 80 years. ... An incredibly comprehensive look at the fact, fiction, myth and legend surrounding Ruth’s most colossal at-bat. Babe Ruth's Called Shot brings it into sharp focus from every angle imaginable."
—Kirk Kandle, TheCalledShot.com
"Nothing makes for better reading than terrific reporting, and few singular moments in sports history have been debated, discussed, and researched with the fervor of Babe Ruth's Called Shot. It took place more than 80 years ago, but it is argued about as if it happened last week. Ed Sherman brings it into sharp focus in a uniquely entertaining and greatly detailed way."
—John Feinstein, author of the bestselling A Good Walk Spoiled and Open
“Sherman cuts through the hype and hyperbole to deliver the true history of the event, revealing not just what happened but how and why a single at bat became the stuff of legend.”
—Glenn Stout, bestselling author of Yankees Century and The Cubs and series editor of Best American Sports Writing
"Ed Sherman has written with affection and charm about one of baseball's most intriguing moments. This is a wonderful look at a Ruth, his team, and his time."
—Jonathan Eig, author of the bestselling Luckiest Man and Opening Day
"A fun and fascinating exploration of baseball’s most famous and infamous home run. If there's such a thing as a sports archeologist, then Sherman is the tops in his field as he meticulously digs for the truth and uncovers little known and never-before-told factual gems. He examines this iconic moment from every imaginable point of view—players, spectators, sportswriters, and others who were there—and guides you, pitch by pitch, during the Babe’s unforgettable at-bat. In this thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly informative book, Sherman does a yeoman’s job of separating myth from reality and lays out compelling cases for those who believe in the Ruthian legend and those who don’t. For any fan who loves baseball history and is looking for ammunition to use during the next sports debate of did-he-or-didn’t-he, this is must reading."
—Allan Zullo, coauthor of The Baseball Hall of Shame
"Babe Ruth remains the singular colossus of American sport, and his home run in the fifth inning of Game Three of the 1932 World Series remains the most indelible moment of his career. Ed Sherman takes us back to that afternoon on the North Side, which for so long has remained shrouded in mystery, with this detail-rich biography of the most mythologized at-bat in the annals of the national pastime. Finally we have the definitive account of the so-called Called Shot.
—Jeremy Schaap, six-time Emmy Award winner and author of the New York Times bestselling Cinderella Man
“An exhaustive, delightful treatment of a fascinating moment in American sport ... This brilliantly rendered account of Ruth’s famous Called Shot and the decades-long debate brings to life the most celebrated athlete American sport has ever known at the very moment when he crosses that precipice separating man from legend. The moment is expertly captured and examined from all its many angles. Anyone who appreciates the lore, history, and, yes, mythology of America’s game will delight in getting lost within these pages.”
—Josh Pahigian, author of The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip and 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out
"Babe Ruth's Called Shot sheds light on one of baseball mythology's great tales. Sherman does a terrific job of taking the reader back to the days when the iconic Bambino ruled baseball. Well written and quite entertaining—I couldn't put it down."
—Bill Chastain, author of Hack's 191 and 100 Things Giants Fans Should Know and Do before They Die
"Chicago sportswriter Ed Sherman, who has forgotten more about baseball than most people will ever know, dissects Ruth's Called Shot like a frog in a high school science lab—meticulously researched and reported and wonderfully written. Even the Bambino would buy this book."
—Gene Wojciechowski, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Great Game and Cubs Nation
“Sherman gives us a flesh-and-blood Babe, a late-career legend who will forever be bigger than life no matter what he was specifically pointing at during the 1932 World Series. If you are going to pick one swing from one player, who better than someone who could turn a World Series sweep into a mystery still hotly debated four score and almost seven Octobers later because of a hand gesture? It’s a Ruthian blast.”
—Matt Silverman, author of Swinging '73 and 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do before They Die
"Ed Sherman's wonderfully entertaining dissection of Babe Ruth's most memorable World Series home run reminds us of the mythic power packed into baseball and its ability to help us see life in its most vivid colors."
—Edward Achorn, Casey Award–nominated author of The Summer of Beer and Whiskey and Fifty-Nine in '84
"A wonderful journey through a Depression-ravaged era when everything that happened in baseball—and particularly what Ruth did—mattered to a nation anxious for a diversion. So did the Babe really call his shot in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series? Perhaps we'll never know for sure, but Sherman expertly relives that magic moment in time and reminds us why we love baseball in the first place."
—Jim Reisler, author of Babe Ruth: Launching the Legend
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.