Larry Ruttman

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Larry Ruttman
Larry Ruttman
Ruttman in his Brookline, Massachusetts office in 2012
BornLawrence Allen Ruttman
(1931-02-08) February 8, 1931 (age 91)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
OccupationAttorney, author, and historian
EducationUniversity of Massachusetts, Amherst (BA)
Boston College (JD)
Notable worksVoices of Brookline (2005)
American Jews and America's Game (2013)
My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park (2018)
SpouseLois Raverby (m. 1963)

Lawrence Allen "Larry" Ruttman[1] (born February 8, 1931) is an American attorney, author, and historian. He is best known for his two books of biographical cultural history,[2] Voices of Brookline and American Jews and America's Game, and for his baseball memoir, My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts.


Ruttman was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Doris Grandberg Ruttman and Morris "Moe" Ruttman and moved to Brookline, Massachusetts at the age of two. He graduated from Brookline High School, received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and earned a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 1958.[3][4] From 1952 to 1954, he served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, and was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. He married Lois Raverby on November 3, 1963.

He has practiced law in Brookline since 1960.[5] He was an Assistant Attorney General in the civil rights section of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General from 1960 to 1962. He is a fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the charitable partner of the Massachusetts Bar Association, and served on the Board of Governors of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA) in the 1980s. He was an elected Brookline Town Meeting member from 1958 to 1968, an elected Democratic Town Committee member from 1960 to 1976, and an appointed member of the Brookline Cable Trust from 1984 to 1986.

In 2019, Ruttman led an effort at the Brookline Town Meeting to rename the former Edward Devotion School in honor of Ethel Weiss, the owner of a nearby toy and card shop, who welcomed neighborhood children into her store for more than 76 years.[6]

Writing career[edit]

Ruttman's career as a published writer began at age 67, when he accompanied the members of a Plymouth, Massachusetts rowing club to the World Pilot Gig Championships on the Isles of Scilly in the United Kingdom. His article about the event, "Row Hard No Excuses," was published as the cover story of the boating magazine Messing About in Boats.[7] The next year, his article about the team's trip to the Dutch Open Gig Championships again made the magazine's cover.[8]

Oral History of American Music[edit]

In the early 2000s, Ruttman was chosen as an interviewer by founder and then-director Vivian Perlis of Yale University's Oral History of American Music, which has preserved "audio and visual memoirs in the voices of the major musical figures of our time"[9] since the 1960s. In that capacity, Ruttman interviewed the American microtonalist composer Ezra Sims as well as Guggenheim and MacArthur-winning composer and pianist Ran Blake.[10]

Voices of Brookline[edit]

Ruttman self-published Voices of Brookline through Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC in 2005; Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and 1988 presidential candidate, wrote the foreword. The book features Ruttman's biographies of 75 Brookline citizens. In addition to Dukakis, television journalist Mike Wallace, and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Harry Ellis Dickson, the book's subjects include journalist Ellen Goodman; architecture critic and author Jane Holtz Kay; Nobel Prize-winning physicist Wolfgang Ketterle; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; composer Osvaldo Golijov; pianist and composer Ran Blake; many ordinary citizens involved in town government, education, preservation, and other pursuits; and two notable sports venues, the Longwood Cricket Club (site of the first Davis Cup) and The Country Club (which hosted the 1999 Ryder Cup and the 2022 U.S. Open Championship).

Boston University professor and historian Howard Zinn wrote of Voices of Brookline, "[This] book is a model of how an oral history of a town ought to be written."[11]

American Jews and America's Game[edit]

Ruttman drew on his lifelong love of baseball for his next book, American Jews and America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball, published in 2013 by the University of Nebraska Press.[12] "Growing up in Brookline in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Larry Ruttman used to play stickball behind the Devotion School. Now, at 82 years old, Ruttman is making the jump to the major leagues," wrote The Boston Globe.[13] American Jews and America's Game includes short biographies of more than 40 Jewish men and women in baseball, including players (from Hank Greenberg, Sandy Koufax, and Thelma 'Tiby' Eisen of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to Kevin Youkilis and Ian Kinsler), league officials and team owners (Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who also wrote the book's foreword; Theo Epstein, the youngest general manager in baseball history), to journalists and fans (Pulitzer-prize nominated reporter Alan Schwarz, Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, former U.S. representative Barney Frank). Ruttman began the book in Israel in 2007 while interviewing managers of the new Israel Baseball League, including former Major League players Ken Holtzman, Ron Blomberg, Art Shamsky, and Steve Hertz, as well as former Yankees public relations director and author Marty Appel.[14] He traveled across the U.S. to interview subjects for the book over the next four years.[15] The book's subjects share their stories of growing up Jewish and succeeding in America; discuss hot-button issues such as intermarriage, assimilation, future viability, Jewish identity, religious observance, anti-Semitism, and Israel; and bring to life the role of Jewish men and women in America's pastime and America. American Jews and America's Game has been reviewed by Bloomberg Business Week,[16] Kirkus Reviews,[17] and many other baseball, Jewish, and general interest publications.

American Jews and America's Game was selected for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Talking Book Program.[18]

Jews on First[edit]

Playwrights Larry Jay Tish and Lee Goodwin and composer Erin Murray Quinlan wrote Jews on First, a musical adapted from American Jews and America's Game.[19] The world premiere took place at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City on April 11, 2016.[20][21] The play was also staged at the New Surry Theatre in Blue Hill, Maine; Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale, Massachusetts; and NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, Massachusetts.[22] Development of the musical ended after the March 2017 death of philanthropist Ted Cutler.[23]

My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts[edit]

In May 2018, Ruttman published a memoir of his years as a fan of the Boston Red Sox, My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts.[24] Longtime sportswriter and Red Sox team historian Gordon Edes described it as "an unmatched, and highly personal, view of what it meant to have a front-row seat on Fenway Park history."[25] The Boston Globe published an excerpt from the memoir on December 24, 2018.[26] The complete memoir was also published in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture.[27]

Larry Ruttman: A Life Lived Backwards: An Existential Triad of Friendship, Maturation, and Inquisitiveness[edit]

In 2021, Ruttman self-published Larry Ruttman: A Life Lived Backwards: An Existential Triad of Friendship, Maturation, and Inquisitiveness through Harvard Book Store. Written largely during the pandemic,[28][29] the book covers Ruttman's early life, legal practice, friendships, and second career as an interviewer, author, and storyteller.

Intimate Conversations: Face to Face with Matchless Musicians[edit]

In 2022, Ruttman's fifth book, Intimate Conversations: Face to Face with Matchless Musicians, was self-published through Harvard Book Store. The book features Ruttman's interviews with twenty-one notable composers, conductors, instrumentalists, and other musicians.[28] Kirkus Reviews said of the book, "An avid classical music fan talks with some of his favorite composers, conductors, and musicians in this collection of interviews.... [Ruttman] has assembled an impressive list of interviewees in the classical music world, separating them into such sections as composers (John Harbison, Unsuk Chin, Osvaldo Golijov), conductors (Gil Rose, Martin Pearlman), instrumentalists and vocalists (Anne-Sophie Mutter, Susan Graham, Aiko Onishi), music management (Mark Volpe), and the 'beyond genre' (Ran Blake, Eden MacAdam-Somer, Monica Rizzio)…..He examines his subjects’ personal histories and their philosophies, musical and otherwise, and comes up with good questions, as when he asks Harbison if he can compose while working as a conductor. And he gets some thought-provoking answers….. Despite a few flaws, this volume offers plenty of compelling tidbits for classical music aficionados."[30]

Baseball and the American Dream[edit]

On July 19, 2021, Ruttman’s video conversation with Eddie Romero Jr, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Boston Red Sox, was presented by Brookline Rotary, Brookline Interactive Group Television, and as part of a one-hour program entitled Baseball and The American Dream.[31] In the program, “historian Larry Ruttman of Brookline, Eddie Romero Jr of the Boston Red Sox general management, and Jordan Rich of WBZ Radio share their personal reminiscences about living in America with baseball as a backdrop – a retrospective spanning almost ninety years. They look at the changes in baseball as it has evolved to be more inclusive and to care about the quality of the players’ lives, not just their batting averages."[32]

A Life Lived Backwards: One Man's Life podcast[edit]

In August 2021, Ruttman began a biweekly podcast, A Life Lived Backwards: One Man's Life, based on his memoir of a similar name. In each episode, Boston radio host Jordan Rich interviews Ruttman about the people, places and experiences that have shaped him and contributed to his life adventure. "I’m hoping my life, and my use of my particular characteristics of Friendship, Inquisitiveness, and Maturation, may help you find yours at any time of life," Ruttman said in his note to the first episode.[33]

Approach to historical writing[edit]

Although Ruttman's work is often referred to as "oral history," Ruttman uses the term "biographical cultural history." "Oral history is generally presented dryly as only the verbatim answers of the interviewee to an invisible interviewer," he wrote in a July 2015 blog post. "Or, if visible, the interviewer is represented only by his question. In my books, I seek to transform the interview into a short biography related as a lively conversation between the subject and me. Thus, I'm not only visible, but shifting here and there, as required by the arc of the short biography I am writing, to the third person to interject comments or information to fill in the gaps, and thus project the interview not only as a lively conversation, but as the story, in essence, of a person's life."[2]

Contributions to scholarly archives[edit]

In 2015, Ruttman donated interview recordings, interview transcripts, and illustrations from American Jews and America's Game to seven libraries and archives, including the Library of Congress and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.[34]

In February 2017, the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center announced that they had acquired Ruttman's papers related to Voices of Brookline and American Jews and America's Game, with plans to collate, index, digitize, and archive them and publish them online.[35] A finding aid for the collection was published in 2018.[36]


American Jews and America's Game was named the #1 Baseball Book of 2013 by Sports Collectors Digest.[37] It was also a finalist in the Sports category for the 2013 Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.[38]

Voices of Brookline was a finalist for the 2005 American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit.

On June 14, 2013, Ruttman was elected as a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society,[39] which was founded in 1791.


  1. ^ Boston College Bulletin, Law, 1959
  2. ^ a b Ruttman, Larry (July 28, 2015). "The Genre of Biographical Cultural History". Larry Ruttman: Author/Attorney. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  3. ^ Ruttman, Larry (2005). Voices of Brookline, page v. (Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC, 2005). ISBN 1-931807-39-6
  4. ^ "Boston College Law Alumni Bookshelf". Spring 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Brookline's history, one conversation at a time". Brookline Tab. 30 November 2005.
  6. ^ "Say hello to the Ridley School - Town Meeting approves Coolidge Corner School name change". Brookline TAB. November 28, 2019. pp. A1. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  7. ^ Ruttman, Larry (1999) "Row Hard No Excuses." Messing About in Boats, volume 16, issue 19, page 8.
  8. ^ Ruttman, Larry (2000). "Row Hard, No Excuses II." Messing About in Boats, volume 17, issue 20, page 8.
  9. ^ "OHAM: About Us". Yale University Library Oral History of American Music. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  10. ^ "OHAM: Ran Blake Table of Contents". Yale University Library Oral History of American Music. October 10, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  11. ^ Voices of Brookline website, retrieved September 7, 2013
  12. ^ American Jews and America's Game, University of Nebraska Press website
  13. ^ Parker, Brock (2013). Brookline lawyer writes book about Jews and baseball The Boston Globe
  14. ^ Ruttman, Larry (2013). American Jews and America's Game. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. p. xxii. ISBN 978-0-8032-6475-5.
  15. ^ Parker, Brock (2010). Baseball’s Jewish voices, The Boston Globe
  16. ^ Shribman, David (2013). Jews Take the Field; Baseball Stumpers Test Fans: Sports Books, Bloomberg Business Week
  17. ^ Kirkus Reviews (2013), American Jews and America's Game
  18. ^ National Library Service catalog
  19. ^ "Book on Jews and baseball #1, being adapted into a play". Brookline TAB. Brookline, Massachusetts. September 3, 2015. pp. A6. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  20. ^ "Jews on First (aka The Right Pitch)". American Jewish Historical Society. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Unlikely teammates in a musical about Jewish ballplayers". Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. April 11, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  22. ^ "News". American Jews and America's Game official website. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  23. ^ Ruttman, Larry (April 1, 2018). "Update on "Jews on First"". Larry Ruttman: Author/Attorney. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  24. ^ "My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts". American Jews and America's Game official website. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  25. ^ "A front-row seat on Sox history, from Ted to Mookie and everyone in between". Medium. June 7, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  26. ^ Ruttman, Larry (24 December 2018). "It's no surprise here to see the rise of Mookie Betts". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  27. ^ Ruttman, Larry. "My Eighty-Two Year Love Affair with Fenway Park: From Teddy Ballgame to Mookie Betts". NINE: A Journal of Baseball and Culture. University of Nebraska Press. 25 (1–2): 150–183. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  28. ^ a b Davidson, Susie (July 29, 2020). "Brookline@Home: Voices of Brookline author Larry Ruttman now writing his own chapter". Brookline TAB. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  29. ^ Davidson, Susie (March 24, 2021). "Brookline@Home: More updates on time well spent". Brookline TAB. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  30. ^ "Intimate Conversations: Face to Face with Matchless Musicians, by Larry Ruttman". Kirkus Reviews. August 30, 2022. Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  31. ^ "Brookline Hub In-Depth, Episode 16: Baseball and the American Dream". YouTube. July 16, 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Baseball and The American Dream". Brookline Rotary Club. Archived from the original on August 2, 2021. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  33. ^ Ruttman, Larry. "Episode 1: What I Mean By 'Living My Life Backwards'". Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  34. ^ ABNER Library Catalog
  35. ^ "NEHGS collects Brookline resident's papers". Wicked Local Newton. Newton, Massachusetts. February 28, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  36. ^ "Collection: Larry Ruttman Papers". The Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at the New England Historical Genealogical Society. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  37. ^ Schlossberg, Dan (31 December 2013). "Save Some Shelf Space: Best Baseball Books of 2013". Sports Collectors Digest. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  38. ^ "Foreword Reviews' 2013 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalists: Sports (Adult Nonfiction)". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  39. ^ "This Month at the MHS". Massachusetts Historical Society website. Retrieved 4 January 2014. Larry Ruttman, Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society

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