Larry Ruttman

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Larry Ruttman
Larry Ruttman
Ruttman in his Brookline, Massachusetts office in 2012
Born (1931-02-08) February 8, 1931 (age 87)
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Occupation attorney and author
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Amherst, Boston College Law School
Notable works Voices of Brookline (2005)
American Jews and America's Game (2013)
Website
larryruttman.com

Lawrence A. "Larry" Ruttman (born February 8, 1931) is an American attorney and author. He is best known for his two books of biographical cultural history,[1] Voices of Brookline and American Jews and America's Game.

Biography[edit]

Larry 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 B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and earned a J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1958.[2][3] From 1952 to 1954, he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, and was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. He married Lois Raverby on November 3, 1963.

Larry Ruttman has practiced law in Brookline since 1960.[4] 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.

Writing career[edit]

Ruttman's career as a published writer began at age 67, when he accompanied a friend from 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.[5] The next year, his article about the team's trip to the Dutch Open Gig Championships again made the magazine's cover.[6]

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"[7] 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.[8]

Voices of Brookline[edit]

Two subsequent experiences led to Ruttman's first book, Voices of Brookline. From 2000 to 2004, he hosted "From Community to Cyberspace," a local history program on Brookline Access Television, on which he interviewed Brookline residents about their memories of and perspectives on the town. Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and 1988 presidential candidate; Mike Wallace; and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Harry Ellis Dickson were among Ruttman's guests. From 2001 to 2003, Ruttman also wrote a column, "Brookline Then and Now," for the Brookline Tab newspaper, based on interviews conducted for the program. "I was beginning to believe that I could fashion an interesting history of Brookline by telling stories about Brookline's plethora of fascinating people from all walks of life, whom I was now interviewing on a regular schedule," Ruttman wrote.[2] The television and print interviews became the basis for the book.[9]

Ruttman self-published Voices of Brookline through Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC in 2005; Michael Dukakis wrote the foreword. The book features Ruttman's biographies of 75 Brookline citizens. In addition to Dukakis, Wallace, and 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). Boston University professor Howard Zinn wrote of Voices of Brookline, "[This] book is a model of how an oral history of a town ought to be written."[10]

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.[11] "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.[12] 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.[13] He traveled across the U.S. to interview subjects for the book over the next four years.[14] 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.

Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel and the first Commissioner of the Israel Baseball League, wrote that "American Jews and America's Game is a highly accessible book about the game America's Jews love to love. The author allows his subjects great latitude to comment on their Jewishness and their association with the game. The interviewees range from baseball's best to ordinary fans, united around their faith and favorite sport. This is an enjoyable read."[15] 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, and Ruttman has spoken about the book at venues ranging from the 92nd Street Y with Harvard Law School professor and book subject Alan Dershowitz and film critic Jeffrey Lyons,[18] to the Great Fenway Park Writers' Series with Dr. Charles Steinberg, Executive Vice President & Senior Advisor to the President / CEO of the Boston Red Sox,[19] to Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue in New York City, where Ruttman moderated a panel of Alan Dershowitz, Ira Berkow, Donald Fehr, and Art Shamsky, all biographees from the book.[20]

American Jews and America's Game was selected for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Talking Book Program.[21]

Jews on First[edit]

Playwrights Larry Jay Tish and Lee Goodwin and composer Erin Murray Quinlan have written a musical based on American Jews and America's Game, originally entitled Swing, Schmendrick, Swing[22] and subsequently renamed Jews on First. The world premiere took place at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York City on April 11, 2016.[23][24] As of March 2017, the play had also been staged at the New Surry Theatre in Blue Hill, Maine; Hebrew SeniorLife in Roslindale, Massachusetts; and NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, Massachusetts.[25]

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.[26] 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."[27]

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."[1]

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.[28]

In February 2017, the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the American Jewish Historical Society, whose New England branch is now part of NEHGS, 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.[29] A finding aid for the collection was published in 2018.[30]

Awards[edit]

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,[31] which was founded in 1791.

American Jews and America's Game was named the #1 Baseball Book of 2013 by Sports Collectors Digest.[32] It was also a finalist in the Sports category for the 2013 Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award.[33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ruttman, Larry (July 28, 2015). "The Genre of Biographical Cultural History". Larry Ruttman: Author/Attorney. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b Ruttman, Larry (2005). Voices of Brookline, page v. (Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC, 2005). ISBN 1-931807-39-6
  3. ^ "Boston College Law Alumni Bookshelf". Spring 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Brookline's history, one conversation at a time". Brookline Tab. 30 November 2005.
  5. ^ Ruttman, Larry (1999) "Row Hard No Excuses." Messing About in Boats, volume 16, issue 19, page 8.
  6. ^ Ruttman, Larry (2000). "Row Hard, No Excuses II." Messing About in Boats, volume 17, issue 20, page 8.
  7. ^ "OHAM: About Us". Yale University Library Oral History of American Music. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  8. ^ "OHAM: Ran Blake Table of Contents". Yale University Library Oral History of American Music. October 10, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  9. ^ Silvio, Ann (2005). Local TV host prints chats for posterity, The Boston Globe
  10. ^ Voices of Brookline website, retrieved September 7, 2013
  11. ^ American Jews and America's Game, University of Nebraska Press website
  12. ^ Parker, Brock (2013). Brookline lawyer writes book about Jews and baseball The Boston Globe
  13. ^ Ruttman, Larry (2013). American Jews and America's Game. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. p. xxii. ISBN 978-0-8032-6475-5.
  14. ^ Parker, Brock (2010). Baseball’s Jewish voices, The Boston Globe
  15. ^ Kurtzer, Daniel (2013). Praise for American Jews and America's Game
  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. ^ Shanahan, Mark, and Meredith Goldstein (2013), Dershowitz and Friends Talk Sox in New York, The Names Blog, Boston Globe
  19. ^ The Great Fenway Park Writers Series event page, September 18, 2013.
  20. ^ Baseball Fans Hit It Out Of The Shul, the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center, October 27, 2014
  21. ^ National Library Service catalog
  22. ^ "Book on Jews and baseball #1, being adapted into a play". Brookline TAB. Brookline, Massachusetts. September 3, 2015. pp. A6. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  23. ^ "Jews on First (aka The Right Pitch)". American Jewish Historical Society. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  24. ^ "Unlikely teammates in a musical about Jewish ballplayers". Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. April 11, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  25. ^ "News". American Jews and America's Game official website. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ "A front-row seat on Sox history, from Ted to Mookie and everyone in between". Medium. June 7, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  28. ^ ABNER Library Catalog
  29. ^ "NEHGS collects Brookline resident's papers". Wicked Local Newton. Newton, Massachusetts. February 28, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
  30. ^ "Guide to the Larry Ruttman Papers, undated, 1997-2015". Center for Jewish History. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  31. ^ "This Month at the MHS". Massachusetts Historical Society website. Retrieved 4 January 2014. Larry Ruttman, Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society
  32. ^ Schlossberg, Dan (31 December 2013). "Save Some Shelf Space: Best Baseball Books of 2013". Sports Collectors Digest. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  33. ^ "Foreword Reviews' 2013 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalists: Sports (Adult Nonfiction)". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved 18 July 2015.

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