Guide to Juvenile Baseball Books: J
- Jackson, C. Paul. Bullpen Bargain. Illustrated by Frank Kramer. New York: Hastings House, 1961. Proud high-school fireballer jumps directly to the majors and must contend with his manager's nubile granddaughter and with a veteran catcher who misses no opportunity to bust his chops.
Hero Bob Thomas is caught in a kind of chiasmus of desire: the granddaughter's interest in dating Bob masks her interest in developing baseball talent, but the catcher's needling masks a kind of man-crush.
- Jackson, C. Paul. Clown at Second Base. New York: Crowell, 1952. Incorrigible minor-league prankster gets a last shot at the majors with a Detroit team desperate for keystone help, and learns to harness his comic energies.
Firmly in the mild, long-winded tradition of Wilfred McCormick or Duane Decker, but with above-average baseball action and lore. An interesting chapter structure follows Bucky and the Tigers from one American League park to another (omitting only Sportsman's Park in St. Louis; apparently the Browns were not even of fictional interest in the early 1950s).
- James, Betsy. The Fireplug is First Base. See Petersen.
- Jefferies, Marc John. The Secret Portrait. See Hirsch.
- Jenkins, Jerry B. The Secret Baseball Challenge. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986. [Dallas O'Neil and the Baker Street Sports Club #1] Dallas O'Neil, poor-but-honest young ballplayer, organizes a sandlot team around devotional reading and Bible study, and leads them in a challenge against more privileged Little Leaguers.
This tract-as juvenile novel announces its own aesthetics: "That was one thing about a good story, a Christian one or not. If it was good, it kept the interest" (21). The book is partially successful on its own terms. The first in a long series, each volume devoted to a different sport. See also Jenkins's adult fiction.
- Jennings, Patrick. Out Standing in My Field. New York: Scholastic, 2005. Wretched youth-leaguer suffers through a game in right field; he can't walk away, because his dad is the coach.
One of the more angst-ridden juvenile baseball novels. Though ultimately the resolution is comic enough, young Ty Cutter has to cope with an embittered alcoholic dad, inflicting the scars of his own baseball failure on his son's back. The protracted game sequence (like many other baseball novels, this one devotes a chapter to each half-inning) is less a realistic ballgame than a frame for backstory and for intricate associations between baseball and life.
- Jerome, Leah. The Girls Strike Back. See Proboz.
- Johnson, Scott. Safe at Second. New York: Philomel, 1999. When an outstanding high-school pitcher is terribly injured, it blights the prospects of his best friend as well.
Standard Young Adult theme, with some believable, well-done moments.
- Johnston, Tim. Never So Green. New York: Farrar, 2002. Boy with disabled hand strikes up friendship with his new stepsister, a keen baseball player; but she harbors a devastating secret.
Mostly a reasonable Young Adult treatment of disability and sexual abuse. But the novel cannot resist staging a big game while tying up all the family-drama issues during that big game, a sequence that strains plotlines and credulity.
- Jones, Marcia Thornton. Mummies Don't Coach Softball. See Dadey.
- Jordan, Deloris, and Roslyn M. Jordan. Michael's Golden Rules. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. Struggling youth baseball team learns that there's a long list of things more important than winning.
Picture book for younger readers.