While this virus keeps us indoors, we can still get excited about the upcoming summer when hopefully, things will be much better. Today is the official opening day of the 2020 baseball season. I thought I’d recognize that with a couple of my favorite baseball themed books and with a poem from my new book, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston April 2020).
GOODBYE, MR. SPALDING, by Jennifer Robin Barr is a thoughtful and heart-warming middle grade tale of friendship, family and baseball set in Philadelphia in the early 1930’s.
Twelve-year-old Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola have lived next door to each other since they were babies. Their houses overlook Shibe Park which happens to be the home of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. They and their families enjoy cheering on their favorite team from the rooftop bleachers of their 20th Street homes. The small admission fees charged to the folks that fill up the bleacher seats goes a long way toward making ends meet during difficult times. And, every so often an A’s player – like Jimmie Foxx – hits a right field home run right over the fence and onto their rooftop.
At the end of the 1934 season, the neighborhood gets news of a wall that is planned to be built to block their view and make the rooftop bleachers obsolete. This “spite wall” will take away a source of income for the families and erase a beloved tradition. Jimmy sets out to try and stop the wall. With Lola’s help, they try one scheme after another and only succeed in causing trouble for themselves and the community. Will Jimmy’s obsession with the wall ruin his chances of being bat boy for the A’s? Will it ruin his friendship with Lola? Will the Polinski brothers – AKA the neighborhood bullies succeed in ruining Jimmy? Reader’s will eagerly turn pages to find out.
This delightful story is solidly grounded in the 1930’s with enough local and historical details to fix the depression-era time period. Hopeful, heart-felt and a celebration of teamwork and sportsmanship, it is sure to become a classroom favorite. It knocked me out of the park. Rule # 1934: Goodbye, Mr. Spalding is a home run!
THE EVERYTHING KIDS’ BASEBALL BOOK by Greg Jacobs has…everything.
“Everything you want in a kid’s book” (Associated Press) this informative and accessible guide to America’s favorite pastime covers everything from baseball’s history to today’s favorite players—with lots of home run fun in between.
Illustrated by John John Bajet
Celebrate the unheralded people and stories that helped shape the game of baseball!
Meet unsung pioneers, like John “Bud” Fowler, William Edward White, and brothers Moses Fleetwood Walker and Weld Walker, four African Americans who integrated white teams decades before Jackie Robinson.
Discover unforgettable moments, like the time a 17-year old girl named Jackie Mtchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Marvel at records. Did you know that Japanese superstar Sadaharu Oh has a whopping 113 more career homers than Hank Aaron?
Finally, here’s a poem from my book, WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, where Jack and his grandpa attend a baseball game together in the summer of 1964.
A day at the ballpark with Pops
and my two favorite teams feels like
a dream you never want to wake up from.
Four rows behind home plate,
the grass is so green it hurts my eyes.
So much noise, Pops and me
have to yell at each other to be heard.
Smell of hotdogs, warm and
dripping with mustard,
tastes better than any hotdog
I ever ate. Even the seats,
sticky with spilled soda and beer
feel solid under me. Only one thing
would make this one-of-a-kind day better.
A team of three.
Where are you, Dad? Do you remember
our Little League team
that never won a game our first year?
That didn’t stop us from playing hard, so hard
that the second season we were 6-6.
Thinking about Jill and her family team
that may not win every game, but they will be together.
Things work out better when
you work together, like we learned
in Little League.
Yankees beat the Red Sox 9-3.
So, hunker down, make some hotdogs and read about America’s favorite past time.