Gift of the Bambino

Written by Jerry Amernic
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

In Gift of the Bambino, Jerry Amernic pens a misty paean to baseball, Babe Ruth, and the hopes and dreams of a young boy and his grandfather.

Stephen is the only child of neglectful parents. His sole source of love is his beloved grandfather, Larry, who teaches him the finer points of baseball – despite the fact that the older man hates to watch the sport. In the last weeks of his life Larry reveals the source of this paradox: he was once a professional player.

As a boy, Larry witnessed Babe Ruth’s first major league homerun. The ball flew right out of the stadium and into the lake beyond. Dazzled, Larry decides at that moment to become a baseball player. After high school, he tries out for the Yankees and – with the help of a vision of the Bambino – he makes the farm team. He eventually plays in the AA league, but he never “makes the show.” Larry gives up on the sport on the same day he witnesses Babe Ruth – now portly and dissolute — hit his final major league home run. Now, dying, Larry asks his grandson to fetch the Bambino’s first homerun ball from the lake, as a memento of all his broken dreams.

Often reading like a sportswriter’s summary of an idol’s career, this heartfelt but overly sentimental novel is solely for those who believe in the church of baseball.