Tuesday, September 27, 2016

David O. Stewart's "The Babe Ruth Deception"

David O. Stewart is the author of several works of history, including Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America, which have been awarded the Washington Writing Award and the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize. His Fraser and Cook mystery novels are The Lincoln Deception, The Wilson Deception, and the newly released The Babe Ruth Deception.

Here Stewart dreamcasts an adaptation of The Babe Ruth Deception:
Since this is the third book in my Jamie Fraser/Speed Cook series of historical mysteries, I’m already on record that William Hurt is a natural for Dr. Fraser and Denzel Washington would kill in the juicy Speed Cook role as a washed-up ballplayer with an attitude.

But what about the Babe? In two major movies featuring the Babe, he was portrayed wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. William Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story was clueless and unathletic, while John Goodman in The Babe was obese and twenty years too old.

In The Babe Ruth Deception, Babe is 25 years old, a prime physical specimen, arguably the finest athlete to play baseball for a couple of generations. No more fat, dopey actors playing the Babe.

In his younger days, Joe Don Baker would have been a great Babe Ruth – large and powerful, with a broad face that could be intimidating or charming. But Joe Don’s eighty years old.

My best candidate today is Chris Pratt, who was brilliant in the TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. Pratt actually portrayed a first baseman in Moneyball. He’s got the size and the physicality (he was a high school wrestler) and the acting chops to capture the Babe’s unique mixture of naivete, gusto, and street smarts.

We can’t forget the bad guys. For underworld gambling kingpin Arnold Rothstein – the man who fixed the 1919 World Series – we couldn’t do better than Michael Stuhlbarg, who portrayed Rothstein on the HBO Series Boardwalk Empire. If Stuhlbarg can’t face another turn in the role, Kevin Spacey can play anything, even Keyser Soze.

Finally, what to do about Abe Attell, Rothstein’s right-hand man, former flyweight champion of the world? He needs to be small but scary. Where’s Joe Pesci when you need him most? Maybe Giovanni Ribisi. With an edge.
Learn more about the book and author at David O. Stewart's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Wilson Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Wilson Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue