Review: Babe & the Kid by Charlie Poekel

I’m not a big baseball fan. I can admit that. I love history though, and like nearly every other American I’m a sucker for pop culture. Most of us tend to think of celebrity in terms of what Paris Hilton wore last week, but this story reminded me of a time when doing something nice instead of something stupid was what got lots of publicity.

Babe & the Kid tells the story of Babe Ruth and his enduring friendship with a young boy during and after the 1926 World Series. The kid, Johnny Sylvester, was seriously ill when a kind gesture by the most popular pro ballplayer of his day literally made the difference between life and death. What I found most interesting was the fact that their friendship endured for years afterwards, a testament to Ruth’s character. His visit and gift weren’t a publicity stunt staged for the camera, but the genuine actions of a true hero.

Poekel has done a fine job of researching the facts related to an iconic story in American sports. Especially welcome were the numerous photographs and memorabilia he was given access to through the collection of John Sylvester, Jr., who maintains the scrapbook his father kept of his extraordinary friendship with some of the leading athletes of his day. The book is well-written, an easy and accessible read, and thoroughly enjoyable

12 February 2009


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