Guide to Juvenile Baseball Books: M
- McCormick, Wilfred. Bases Loaded. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1950. [A Bronc Burnett Story] Bronc Burnett, pitcher, runs afoul of a petulant umpire who chides him for being gutless.
Every chapter features long-winded passages of baseball lore (e.g. "Famous Boners"), rather to the detriment of any narrative momentum.
- McCormick, Wilfred. The Phantom Shortstop. 1963. Eau Claire, WI: E. M. Hale, 1966. A Rocky McCune Baseball Story. Rocky McCune, fiery high-school coach, pits his men in a tournament against a team of scientists' sons who rely on a giant computer named Millie for their strategy.
A clunky story but an interesting anxiety. The "Millivac" machine is echoed years later in Kevin Baker's Sometimes You See It Coming.
- McCormick, Wilfred. The Three-Two Pitch. New York: Putnam's, 1948. [A Bronc Burnett Story] Weak-hitting outfielder turns pitcher, develops "rabbit ears," but overcomes them to lead a team that's "taut as a wet lariat" to the championship game.
Mid-20th-century series formula, almost indistinguishable from Clair Bee's Chip Hilton series. This one features the jealous teammate, the lowering father, the garrulous, inépuisable old coach, the catcher with a heart of gold. In one curious scene, hero Bronc Burnett barges into an athletic banquet where people are reciting a pastiche of "Casey at the Bat" and shoots up the event with a starter's pistol.
- McCully, Emily Arnold. Grandmas at Bat. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. [An I Can Read Book] Two grandmothers substitute-coach for a youth-league baseball team, but find they're better cheerleaders than strategists.
A pleasant book, but I wish they would have succeeded as coaches as well as at cheerleading.
- McCully, Emily Arnold. Mouse Practice. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Musical mouse parents can't offer their inept-rightfielder son much support, but he teaches himself to pitch.
- McFadyen, H.C. "Headline-Happy." The Open Road for Boys. Repr. Owen (1948). Pitcher gets a swelled head but reverses course in time to lead his team to victory.
- McFadyen, H.C. "The Pitch-Out." The Open Road for Boys. Repr. Owen (1948). Legion-ball catcher learns to study the opposition.
- Mackay, Claire. Bats about Baseball. See Little.
- Mackel, Kathy. MadCat. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. A youth-league softball player must cope with the restocking of her team with new faces for a championship run.
The novel avoids plot formulas, at the same time risking diffusion of its drama (it's hard to have it both ways). In the end, the structure is somewhat contingent, even random, though the moral of the story is familiar: recreation is better than competition.
- Mackel, Kathy. A Season of Comebacks. New York: Putnam's, 1997. A youth-league softball player must cope with the attention given her older sister, a star pitcher of truly extraordinary talent.
Agreeable and clearly-written story by an experienced softball coach; a Texas Bluebonnet nominee.
- MacKellar, William. "Digger Digs for Victory." Repr. The Boys' Life Book of Baseball Stories. (1964). Hapless school team rides the services of an Australian cricketer to baseball success.
- Mackey, Weezie Kerr. Throwing Like a Girl. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2007. Relocated high-school girl takes up softball as a means of adjusting to her new home and school.
- McKissack, Patricia & Fredrick. Miami Makes the Play. Illustrated by Michael Chesworth. New York: Golden Books, 2001. [Road to Reading] Interpersonal dynamics at a summer baseball camp.
Diary-style chapter book divided into sub-chapters by times of day; more talky than most sport juveniles for younger readers.
- McMahan, Valrie. Travel Stories of Fan, Fan-ie, Ginger and Little Stitches: The Baseball Kids. Alexandria, VA: Children's Library, 1933. A set of three die-cut picture books published to promote a set of dolls.
- McMullan, Kate. The Biggest Mouth in Baseball. Illustrated by Anna DiVito. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1993. Young ballplayer's ineptitude frustrates his coach, teammates, and sister, but his skills at chatter are just the job.
- McNary, Herbert L. "An Ump Goes West." The Open Road for Boys. Repr. Owen (1948). In cowboy country where disputes are usually referred to guns, a big-league umpire tries to play things straight.
- McVey, R. Parker. Mystery at the Ball Game. Mahwah, NJ: Troll, 1985. "Solve-It-Yourself" mystery about the kidnapping of an heir, an amateur detective, and a youth-league ballclub.
- Mammano, Julie. Rhinos Who Play Baseball. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2003. Elementary reader with stylized drawings of the title activity.
One of a series by Mammano featuring the pachyderms trying out various sports.
- Manes, Stephen. An Almost Perfect Game. New York: Scholastic, 1995. Young Jake Kratzer watches a minor-league ballgame in the company of his grandparents; come to find that whatever result he anticipates by writing on his scorecard will occur on the field.
Twenty-two chapters (ten half-innings plus "warm-up" and "post-game") mirror the tedious pace of some real-life baseball games.
- Mantell, Paul. Stealing Home. New York: Little, Brown, 2004. [Matt Christopher: The #1 Sports Series for Kids] Youth-league player copes with the arrival of a talented Nicaraguan exchange student.
Mantell's name does not appear on the cover, which is dominated by the name "Matt Christopher" and lists Christopher's other baseball titles. But the title page reads "Text by Paul Mantell." The story reflects Christopher's common themes of tolerance and welcoming of outsiders.
- Marso, Dan. Rocky the Mudhen. See Shane.
- Martin, Ann M. Kristy at Bat. New York: Scholastic, 1999. [The Baby-Sitters Club #129] A teenage girl comes to terms with her lack of athletic ability, and helps another girl to do the same.
It helps that her stepfather is a millionaire, of course Like most series novels, this one is more complex and better-written than one might think. Still, I wonder about its message of accepting one's limitations. One the one hand, that acceptance is mature; on the other, one rarely sees boys' sport novels that emphasize settling for less.
- Marzollo, Jean, and Dan Marzollo, Dave Marzollo. Baseball Brothers. Illus. True Kelley. New York: Scholastic, 1999. [Hello Reader! Level 3] Timmy, a young tee-ball player, finds right field full of distractions, but then hits a home run in spite of himself.
Ordinary junior reader.
- Matas, Carol. Rosie in Chicago: Play Ball!. New York: Aladdin, 2003. In a vaguely old-timey Windy City, narrator Rosie disguises herself as a boy to play in a ballgame between two Jewish neighborhood clubs.
Part of a three-novel series that traces Rosie's peripatetic family from New York to L.A. via Chicago; only this central novel deals with baseball. It uses a technique wherein the entire plot takes place during a single ballgame, so that all dramatic complications and themes must somehow be worked into nine innings.
- Mathewson, Christy. Pitcher Pollock. Illustrated by Charles M. Relyea. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1914. Youth makes his mark in the sports world of a new community, and makes headway in its social circles as well.
This presumably-ghostwritten novel starts with the Horatio Alger formula: young man does rich older man a good turn, and is well-done by as a result. There is no baseball till about 100 pages in, but plenty of pitching-in-the-pinch advice develops along the way.
- Maule, Tex. The Shortstop. New York: David McKay, 1962. Young infielder promises his mother that he will return to Texas to go to law school if he doesn't make the Yankees' starting lineup as a rookie.
And he does, but with a minimum of sensation. This is a sober thinking-lad's baseball novel, full of tactics and sound advice. It's also interesting for a fully-realized Hispanic character who becomes the Anglo hero's roommate, DP partner, and best friend; Juan Martinez speaks in halting English but is no fool. The characters read baseball literature (Jim Brosnan, Mark Harris), and the supporting cast is a curious mix of real and invented characters (Ralph Houk and Bibb Falk appear as themselves; "Johnny Payne" is a veiled version of Johnny Sain; other characters are entirely imaginary).
- Mays, Willie, and Jeff Harris. Danger in Center Field. 1963. New York: J. Lowell Pratt, 1964. Black rookie gets racist threats from unknown teammate and turns amateur sleuth to track down the culprit.
Mostly just a gee-whiz teen mystery, but interesting in showing a multi-cultural team riven by racist jealousy. The book includes "Center Field Tips" from Mays, and a section giving the text of the Hall of Fame plaques of famous outfielders.
- Meader, Stephen. "Crooked Arm." In The Will to Win and Other Stories (New York: Harcourt, 1936): 73-100. Repr. Fenner. Rube cannot control his blazing fastball, but with the help of some practice and some homespun psychology, he comes through in the pinch.
- Meader, Stephen. "Three Hundred Innings." In The Will to Win and Other Stories (New York: Harcourt, 1936): 228-256. Repr. Fenner. Showboaty college star is about to set a record for innings caught – but will his beefy backup even earn a letter?
"Red" Lassiter, the showboat with a heart of gold, is a type who would make no sense to a young reader seventy years later. "Grandest backstop prospect I ever coached," says his mentor Coach Ginty, "and because his dad's got so much money, the boy'll never see the inside of a pro uniform."
- Meister, Cari. Game Day. Illustrated by Mark A. Hicks. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Elementary reader that uses a 23-word baseball vocabulary.
- Merwin, Sam, Jr. "The Nothing Ball." In Margulies (1948). Washed-up minor-league pitcher gets a few major-league innings out of his exhausted arm.
- Meyer, Joyce. Field of Peace. Illustrated by Mary Sullivan. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. [Everyday Zoo] Team of zoo animals loses chemistry when star giraffe scorns contributions of mediocre armadillo.
Until the pelican coach takes the giraffe aside and lets him know that dissing your teammates is not in God's plan. Don't worry, they regroup to win the Big Game in this picture book, with the armadillo getting his chance to excel.
- Miles, Betty. The Secret Life of the Underwear Champ. 1981. New York: Knopf, 1994. On a street in New York, a youth-league baseball player is discovered by admen who turn him into a TV-commercial underwear model.
Our embryo Jim Palmer recovers from his mortification in time to score the winning run in the big game.
- Miller, Fred. "Beanbrain." Repr. The Boys' Life Book of Baseball Stories. (1964). Kid who grew up pitching batting practice to a youth-league team now faces them in a big game.
- Mochizuki, Ken. Baseball Saved Us. Illustrated by Dom Lee. New York: Lee & Low, 1993. Japanese-Americans interned during World War II preserve their morale by playing baseball; after the war, the narrator adjusts to life in the community by playing youth baseball.
Interesting here is the theme of a culture under pressure and fraying in the internment camps, till sport forms a way of organizing life and reasserting cultural values.
- Montgomery, Lewis B. The Case of the Stinky Socks. Illustrated by Amy Wummer. New York: Kane, 2009. [The Milo & Jazz Mysteries, #1.] Juvenile sleuths track down title good-luck charms, stolen from a star pitcher's locker.
Chapter book with standard child-detective fare, including the device of the unneeded talisman (the pitcher is able to win even without the stolen stinky socks).
- Myers, Walter Dean. The Journal of Biddy Owens: The Negro Leagues. New York: Scholastic, 2001. [My Name is America] A young ballplayer spends the summer of 1948 as a last-string outfielder for the Birmingham Black Barons, and learns that baseball can be his lifetime love even if it can't be his profession.
The conventions of the series, which casts all of its entries as diaries, means that the plot must follow a narrow channel, but Myers takes advantage of the constraints to tell a believable story of one of the latter years of the Negro Leagues.
- Myers, Walter Dean. Me, Mop, and the Moondance Kid. Illustrated by Rodney Peete. New York: Delacorte Press, 1988. Two orphan brothers team with an old friend from the orphanage to help a Little League team win a championship.
Agreeable, strongly multicultural children's fiction.