It's West Coast baseball for the Sox this weekend, which means late nights for me. As I watch the boys hold on to a 4-2 lead against Seattle (bottom of the 7th--I hope I'm not jinxing them!) this is the perfect opportunity to draw up a list of my favorite books about my favorite sport. They are in no particular order. And to keep with the theme--I'll only list nine.
1) The Boy who saved baseball (Ritter, John)
I said these aren't in any particular order, but this is always the first basbeall book I recommend to patrons. It's magical and believable all in one charming package.
2) Zachary's ball (Tavares, Matt)
This picture book of one boy's dream of leading the Red Sox to a World Series win seemed like fan boy wish fulfillment until 2004. But as a testimony to the magic of the game, it's timeless.
3) Shoeless Joe and me (Gutman, Dan)
This is the fourth installment of the Baseball Card Adventures involving the time-travelling Joe Stoshak. Gutman wears his heart on his sleeve in this one with a compelling and compassionate portrayal of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his alleged role in the 1919 Black Sox World Series betting scandal. (Note to Gutman: I'm still hoping for "Ted and Me". Any hopes of Stosh meeting the Splendid Splinter?)
4) Teammates (Golenbock, Peter)
The courage of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in the Major Leagues, is well documented. This picture book focuses a single moment of courage by one of his white teammates, Pee Wee Reese, who put his arm around Robinson in solidarity against the racial taunts and abuse during a Dodgers away game.
5) Free baseball (Corbett, Sue)
This book is unique in that the action is based around a minor-league team, far removed from the glamor of the limelight of the major league clubs. The author's love and knowledge for the game is evident from the books dedication (I'll forgive her loving words for Mookie Wilson, a person infamous in Red Sox history, because I enjoyed the book so much!)
6) Thank you Jackie Robinson (Cohen, Barbara)
Jackie Robinson's influence and example transcended baseball, as is shown in this fine chapter book about the friendship between an elderly African American man and his young Jewish neighbor.
7) Moon ball (Yolen, Jane)
A struggling Little Leaguer dreams of home run glory in this atmospheric picture book by a master fantasist.
8) Yang the Youngest and his terrible ear (Namioka, Lensey)
Yang's father wants him to be a master violinist, like the rest of the family. Yang just wants to play baseball and fit in at his new school. Yang's friend Matthew would love to play the violin, but that doesn't sit well with his blue-collar dad, who prefers bats to bows. Can the two boys devise a plan to show both their dads that their talents are best applied where they see fit? Check out the rest of the Yang family in the series' previous three volumes.
9) Bats about baseball (Little, Jean and Claire Mackay)
I hope you like puns!