Banzai Babe Ruth:
Baseball, Espionage & Assassination During the 1934 Tour of Japan
by Robert K. Fitts
University of Nebraska Press, 2013
A beautiful blending of baseball and history, Banzai Babe Ruth engages the reader in the attempt to forge a friendship using America’s pastime. Author Robert K. Fitts presents the events from both sides of the Pacific—the Japanese businessmen who are intent on bringing the Americans to their country for an All-Star tour in 1934, and the hesitations of the baseball luminaries in America.
The book reads almost like a novel, recounting the interactions between Babe Ruth and his Japanese fans, Moe Berg’s purported spy operations, and Lefty O’Doul’s tutoring young Japanese ballplayers. Highlights of the games are also presented, along with statistics and line scores in the appendices. Some chapters barely mention baseball, focusing instead on the political climate of the time and the war.
Banzai Babe Ruth is great for fans of baseball history, shedding light on a little-known subject in these modern times.