LeBron James and the Tale of How The Babe Earned His Crown by Andy Shenk

Author’s note: I am heavily indebted to Robert Weintraub and his engrossing account of Babe Ruth and the 1923 baseball season for this piece. It was in reading his book, The House That Ruth Built, that I first recognized the many common threads in the lives of Babe Ruth and LeBron James. Far from being a Babe Ruth scholar, I relied exclusively on Weintraub for my treatment of Ruth. 

In October 1923, on the eve of the World Series, one figure commanded the public’s attention, and took responsibility for much of the ink being spilled on the nation’s sports pages. George Herman “Babe” Ruth towered over the American sporting world of the early 1920’s, his legacy built on mammoth long balls, barnstorming tours through small-town America, and a reckless, salacious lifestyle in the Big Apple. Though only twenty-eight at the time, The Babe’s home-run hitting prowess had already proved an electric shock to the sport of baseball, winning Ruth and the Yankees legions of new fans, while at the same time upsetting baseball traditionalists everywhere who venerated small ball. With The Babe and his New York Yankees preparing for their third straight World Series appearance against rival New York club, the Giants, the debate over Ruth’s legacy in the game faced a defining moment. Would Ruth finally defeat the wily, small ball-oriented Giants and silence the critics who said his long balls and bombastic personality were but a passing fad, or would he come up short for the third straight year and risk cementing his reputation as a postseason choker?

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