Book Review: Hit By Pitch by Molly Lawless

Author: Molly Lawless
Title: Hit By Pitch
Publication Info:  Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 2012.
ISBN: 9780786446094


I was fortunate enough to receive a free copy of this work through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program.

This graphic novel tells the true life story of the only baseball player to die from an injury on the field, Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, who was beaned in the head by a pitch from the New York Yankees’ Carl Mays in a 1920 ballgame in New York’s Polo Ground.  Lawless finds some common history among the two men both born in Kentucky in the same year building up their parallel stories leading to the fateful fastball in a similar fashion to Hardy’s “Convergence of the Twain.”  Chapman is charismatic and popular with his teammates and fans while Mays is an outsider who is not well-liked setting up the perfect hero and villain scenario.  Yet, Lawless makes sure to give Mays his fair due.  Lawless details the incident and its aftermath with grim and fascinating details.  For example, did you know that Mays and Yankees’ first baseman Wally Pipp fielded the ball that bounced off Chapman’s head thinking that it was a bunt?  This is a great work of baseball history as well as the graphic arts.

Rating: ****

Recommended BooksThe Glory of Their Times : The Story of Baseball Told By the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S. Ritter, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. by Robert Coover, and Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel.

Book Review: Honus & Me by Dan Gutman

Author:  Dan Gutman
Title:  Honus & Me
Publication Info: HarperCollins (1999)
ISBN: 0380788780

Summary/Review: This is another baseball ebook I borrowed from the library to read to my son that I ended up liking more than he did.  The story is the first in a series in which a boy named Joey discovers he can use baseball cards to travel through time and meet famed players.  In this case, it’s Pittsburgh great Honus Wagner who takes Joey to the 1909 World Series and even gets him in the game.  It’s a great fantasy which touches on issues of integrity and honesty.  Wagner comes across just a bit too perfect, but then again all accounts have him as a great guy.   A good read for kids who like sports from around the ages 7 to 11.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Rivals by Tim Green

Author: Tim Green
Title: Rivals
Publication Info: HarperCollins (2011)
ISBN: 0061626945

Summary/Review:  I downloaded this ebook from the library because my five-year old wanted me to read him a story about baseball.  He ended up not liking it due to the protagonists doing things they shouldn’t do, but I think an older child around 8 to 12 would really enjoy it.  The story is about the great 12 y.o. baseball player Josh, his goofy sidekick Benji, and their friend Jaden (who is a reporter) discovering corruption at a baseball tournament in Cooperstown that may possibly lead to a former star baseball player-turned-actor who has a son in the tournament.  The in-game action scenes are great and the mystery has some interesting twists.  Overall it’s formulaic, but I think this is an enjoyable story for kids about sports, fairplay, and friendship.  It’s part of a series of books called Baseball Great.

Rating: ***