Helfand: Jane Leavy and what it took to write about baseball as a woman

From Zach Helfand at The New Yorker on October 15, 2018, with SABR member Jane Leavy:

Last month, forty years after the Southern District court of New York ordered the Yankees to open their clubhouse to female reporters, the baseball writer Jane Leavy climbed into a black S.U.V. and headed toward Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch. Leavy, who is sixty-six, with a blond bob, wore red lipstick, gray sneakers, and a Yankees jacket. “We’re going to pretend for just a few minutes that I’m not a Yankee fan, and I haven’t been dreaming of this my whole life,” she said. “When I was a little girl—this is no shit—I would practice walking in from the bullpen with my jacket dangled over my shoulder just so.”

To prepare, she’d called up Sandy Koufax, the subject of her 2002 book, subtitled “A Lefty’s Legacy,” and asked for pitching advice. He was succinct: stand close. “Ralph Lauren threw out the first pitch last night,” Leavy said, as the car inched up the West Side Highway. “There was a story in the Post on how David Cone was coaching him. I’m, like, Big fuckin’ deal. I got Koufax.”

Leavy’s latest book, “The Big Fella,” is a sweeping, tender portrait of Babe Ruth—though it includes a few anecdotes about his love life that, today, might register as less than charming. Ruth would count the cigar butts in his ashtray each morning to tally how many women he’d bedded the previous night. He left his first wife for his mistress and, on the day of their wedding, found time to autograph a photo of himself for a former mistress. “Lest you forget Many happy evenings we have spent together,” he wrote.

Baseball players value loyalty, Leavy said, just not always to one’s spouse. “The only thing different about Babe was he did more of it.”

Read the full article here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/what-it-took-to-write-about-baseball-as-a-woman

Originally published: October 15, 2018. Last Updated: October 15, 2018.