The untold story behind one of baseball’s biggest scandals and the men who saved a tarnished game.
In the winter of 1926, Major League Baseball became enveloped in scandal. Two of baseball’s biggest stars, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, were accused of fixing and betting on games. Sportswriters called the scandal worse than that of the infamous “Black Sox.” The reputation of baseball was in tatters.
In Baseball at the Abyss, Dan Taylor reveals the behind-the-scenes story of how baseball was saved after the banishment of Cobb and Speaker. It was all set in motion by one unlikely individual—Christy Walsh, the business manager for Babe Ruth and baseball’s first player agent. Taylor follows Walsh and Ruth as the agent arranges for the Babe to star in a motion picture and presses for Ruth to hire a fitness guru, change his habits, and train while in Hollywood. The results were astonishing. The scandal was soon forgotten as a reinvigorated Babe Ruth enjoyed his greatest season in 1927, slugging 60 home runs and powering his New York Yankees to heights never seen before.
Baseball at the Abyss features fascinating details of the 1926 scandal and the incredible resurgence of the national pastime when it seemed the game was permanently tarnished. It’s the story of a remarkable year in baseball history and the men who restored glory to a troubled game.
Dan Taylor is a sports historian, author, and a former award-winning television sportscaster who is currently the television broadcaster for the Fresno Grizzlies. He is the author of five books, most recently Lights, Camera, Fastball: How the Hollywood Stars Changed Baseball and Walking Alone: The Untold Story of Football Pioneer Kenny Washington. Taylor is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and contributes to their biography project. He is also a member of the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. He resides in Fresno, California.
1 Sour Grape Grower
2 Landing the Big One
3 Tarnished Stars
4 The Very Important Hero
5 Ty Swings Away
6 Baseball at the Abyss
7 Decision Day
8 The Red Faced Cardinal
9 Stealing the Show
10 Reinvigorating Babe Ruth
11 Digesting a Cobb Salary
12 That’s a Wrap
13 The Plan Goes Awry
14 A Different Babe
15 Dawn of a New Day
16 Move Over Babe
17 Reviews Are In
18 Rewrite the Record Book
19 The Greatest Season
20 From Disdain to Acclaim
About the Author
The Great Bambino sucking it up and adapting to the shift by hitting to the opposite field is one of many tasty morsels in Dan Taylor’s Baseball at the Abyss. It’s the story of how the rollicking home run chase between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1927 gave baseball a shot in the arm after multiple gambling scandals had (supposedly) soured the public. The Yankees teammates went back and forth all summer, with Ruth reaching the immortal 60 in the season’s penultimate game. But the heart of Taylor’s book is the relationship between Ruth and Christy Walsh, an adman who became the Babe’s personal manager before that sort of thing really existed. In 1921, a flailing Walsh came up with the idea to syndicate ghostwritten newspaper columns under Ruth’s byline, a sports first, to capitalize on the slugger’s ever-expanding popularity…. Taylor delivers the Ruthian goods. A particular favorite detail was random fans sending Ruth weight-loss tips, including a woman from Cleveland who “urged Ruth to eat ten pineapples a day."
A fascinating look into an important time in baseball history. This is a must read for every true baseball fan.
Who would have thought the first player in our sport to embrace strength and conditioning was Babe Ruth? Dan Taylor reveals what might be the Babe’s greatest contribution to the game in a fascinating story.
I can’t think of a better choice for baseball reading just now…. you will be entertained by Taylor’s narrative, surprised by some of its revelations, and left with some questions to ponder about the future of baseball just now.
11/29/22, Sports Book Reviews: This book was highlighted in a roundup of highly anticipated sports books.
2/27/23, Sports Business Journal: This was highlighted in a roundup of new releases.
3/22/23, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: This is featured in a roundup of new baseball books.
5/6/23, New York Post: Author Dan Taylor is interviewed in this feature article about the book.
5/11/23, Sports Jersey Dispatch podcast: Dan Taylor is interviewed about the book.
7/17/23, Brooklyn Digest: An excerpt from the book is featured.