Earlier this week, an odd little book came over the transom.
Wait, did I say little? Make that an odd big book: Larry Ruttman's very personal American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball. And there are a lot of voices, from Bud Selig to Jeffrey Maier -- yeah, Jeffrey Maier -- and just about everybody you can imagine in between. More on that in a moment. First, a snippet of Selig:
Ted Williams was the greatest hitter who ever lived. There was something about Ted ... I got to know him very well before he died. He called me a lot and started out every conversation, "You got the worst fucking job in America." That is how every conversation started. He was great. I loved Ted. Oh, he was great when you got to know him. He would always say to me at the end of a conversation, "Anything I can do for you?" and I did ask a couple of favors, and Ted did them. He was wonderful, and oh man, could he hit.
There's quite a bit more from Selig; this might actually be the most interesting thing I've read about him. Oh, and he also wrote the book's foreword.
I'm not going to go through the whole list of subjects, but in addition to the players you know about (or might not, in the case of Elliott Maddox), Ruttman also interviews Alan Dershowitz, Barney Frank, Roger Kahn, Murray Chass, Alan Schwarz, Theo Epstein, and a number of other notables about their lives and their professions and their connections to Judaism. This is a large-format book and runs more than 500 pages and I can't imagine reading it cover to cover. But it's a tremendous piece of work, and we're lucky to have it.