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            The story and controversy surrounding Babe Ruth’s “called shot” home run in the 1932 World Series is well-known to both serious and casual baseball fans.  Did Ruth actually point to the exact spot where he hit his epic home run off Charlie Root?  Eyewitness accounts vary.

Two grainy home movies—now eighty years old—have been scrutinized frame-by-frame in an effort to discern Ruth’s intent.  These videos are baseball’s equivalent of the Zapruder film that captured the assassination of John F. Kennedy. 

We will never know for sure, but the mystique of the moment is unquestioned, and we do know that the precipitating event occurred in a Chicago hotel room on the morning of July 6, 1932.

Many years before Steve Bartman, and more than a decade before the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Cubs were jinxed and terrorized by a pretty brunette named Violet Popovich.  After finishing off a bottle of gin and composing a suicide note, the aspiring showgirl and former girlfriend of Cub shortstop Billy Jurges, confronted Jurges in room 509 of the Hotel Carlos and shot him with a .25 caliber handgun.  One thing led to another—most notably, that the Cubs signed former Yankee Mark Koenig as a backup infielder—and by October 1, 1932, Babe Ruth and the Chicago Cubs were in a heated debate about the fairness of voting Koenig only a half-share of World Series money.   Ruth settled that argument with his bat.

But The Called Shot: A Story of the 1932 Baseball Season is about more than a lover’s quarrel, a wounded shortstop, some verbal sparring, and the last of Babe Ruth’s fifteen World Series home runs.  It is about a turbulent baseball season played during one of the most extraordinary summers in American history. 

The story begins with a prologue that describes the journey of four fans—a prison warden, his son, and two inmates—who travel from the Anamosa Men’s Reformatory in Iowa to Wrigley Field to see a World Series game.  The main narrative then flashes back to recreate the remarkable 1932 baseball season, from spring training to the World Series.  The ultimate confrontation between the Cubs and Babe Ruth comes at the end of the book, but the dramatic buildup to that moment includes mini-biographies of players and managers, the depiction of pennant races and key games, and the perspective of ordinary fans who observed the unfolding of events throughout the season.

This is the story of one of baseball's greatest seasons.