Yup. I admit it. I am baseball crazy. I have been since my mom took me to games at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, to see the newly arrived Minnesota Twins. And this year the Twins have outdoor baseball for the first time since 1982. It’s no wonder “baseball awareness” is heightened at this time of year. Of course, people all over the country were waiting for their teams to take the field for Opening Day just two weeks ago. Among the CLN members who are baseball crazy that I know about are: Jen Bryant, Sue Corbett, Linda Sue Park, Tom Fitzpatrick (Reading with Dads), Kurtis Scaletta, Anne Ursu (the original Bat-Girl … we sure miss that blog), and me! (If you’d like to be added to this list, it’s never too late. Make a comment, step right up!)
In the meantime, here are ten of my favorite baseball books to celebrate the season:
Baseball Crazy: Ten Short Stories That Cover All the Bases. Jerry Spinelli, Ron Koertge, John H. Ritter, Frank Portman, David Rice, Sue Corbett, Maria Testa, Paul Acampora, Joseph Bruchac, Charles R. Smith, Jr., (Dial). Good for reading out loud, these ten stories center around baseball, ranging from humorous to serious.
Bat 6, Virginia Euwer Wolff (Scholastic). Two Oregon towns have a strong rivalry between their girls’ softball teams. When World War II rages, so do the tempers and prejudices on the two teams. A strong story of recognition and reconciliation.
Baseball Saved Us, Ken Mochizuki, illus by Dom Lee (Lee & Low). A Japanese-American family is sent to an internment camp during World War II; baseball gives the families a purposeful way of passing the time.
The Boy Who Saved Baseball, John H. Ritter (Philomel). Tom, Doc Altenheimer, Cruz de la Cruz, and Dante del Gato all figure prominently in this story about a small town facing major development. When Doc issues a challenge to Tom and the other baseball players, the town rises to make winning baseball a reality. A book-length tall tale, this is great fun.
The Desperado Who Stole Baseball, John H. Ritter (Philomel). Back in the days of the Wild West, baseball would try to save another town. Jack Dillon and Billy the Kid are the central characters in this even taller tale from Ritter.
Free Baseball, Sue Corbett (Dutton). Felix has grown up in America, where he idolizes his father, a Cuban baseball superstar. Felix lives and breathes baseball, so when he’s mistaken for the bat boy of a Florida minor league team, he’s thrilled. It’s a coming-of-age story, seamlessly integrated with sports action.
Jackie’s Bat, Marybeth Lorbiecki, illus by Brian Pinkney (Simon & Schuster). When Jackie Robinson takes the field for the Dodgers in 1947, the batboy parrots his father’s prejudices. During a season of learning to know and observing the man, young Joey comes to his own conclusions about the baseball player we all honor today.
Mudville, Kurtis Scaletta (Knopf). It’s been raining for 22 years in Moundville, prolonging the finish of an interrupted baseball game. When the rivalry between two towns involves a curse, it’s up to the next generation to play out the game, discovering what really happened so many years ago.
Top of the Order, John Coy (Scholastic). When four friends, the top of the order on their baseball team, face big changes in their lives, the game provides a pivot center for them.
You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax? Jonah Winter, illus by Andrew Carrilho (Schwartz & Wade). From the engaging illustrations to the unsentimental presentation of the amazing personal and professional capabilities of this baseball superstar, this is a picture book to treasure.