Guide to Juvenile Baseball Books: S

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Pleasant junior reader with a clever ending.


The central character is a young ballplayer whose best friend tells him "If we ever needed baseball, it's right now" (189). As the multicultural Hawaiian community is rent by suspicion, baseball continues to unite kids of all ethnicities. A Scott O'Dell Award winner for best juvenile historical fiction.



Earnest, straightforward depiction of the problems of divorce, step-parenting, and the balance between Jewish traditions and secular life.


Diverting episodes include a wacky romp with a goat and a foiled kidnapping.


Criticism: Dagavarian



Low-key and plausible psychologically, though there are no twists of plot or theme.


In the end, all three combine to win the Big Game, but in the meantime they are preyed upon by a blackguardly city boy named Rackliff, who tempts them to envy one another and even to bet against their own school. Part of a series about the adventures of the Oakdale prep boys in various settings (Oakdale Boys in Camp, The Great Oakdale Mystery, &c.), this one has a certain plot interest despite its impossible vocabulary and blinkered social consciousness. (Morgan Scott is a pseudonym for Gilbert Patten, creator of the Frank Merriwell stories.)


Familiar story with engaging messages on behalf of literacy and physical fitness.


Shannon's ominous illustrations are the central element of this large-format picture book.


A nice headlong plot keeps things moving in this junior reader.



Notable for an almost complete absence of blocking characters, as neurotic Ernie Powers gets encouragement from his musical roommate, a psych-major cheerleader, a charismatic debate coach, and even a defeated rival. Only the team's top starter shows some jealousy, and then not for long.


And to win the respect of his big brother, our hero has to run into a fence and knock himself senseless while making a game-winning catch, naturally.


Political themes are front and center in this book. It's all about social class; the characters are presumptively white and only one female character appears (a player's mother, briefly; but she's quickly told to keep quiet). In the end, democracy defeats the powers of coercion and oppression.


Routine tall corn. A publisher's preface assures us that Sherman's "heroes are the finest examples of sturdy American youth, lovers of sport and sportsmanship without being, in any sense of the word, 'sissies'."


Which he saves, resourcefully, by throwing an intentional wild pitch, hence the title.







Builds toward a heavily-fraught climax.


We've seen these themes before, but the scenes of the protagonist's temperamental reactions to losing and being benched are well-drawn.



A nice illustration of the fact that you don't always win the Big Game – or any game, for that matter.


The Unnecessary Talisman motif gets a new twist in this pleasant picture book. Luis's "tryouts" don't just consist of any old snack, or the same one over and over: he always has to try something new to get luck on his side (until of course he succeeds just fine without). Picky eaters may find their horizons broadened by the book's persuasion, at least till the final big at-bat.


Subtly-done story that handles a potentially sentimental scene in a restrained way.


Celebrated children's book with a strong sports theme and considerable baseball interest. Newbery Medal 1991.


But what if the last one is a triple play instead?


Delightful beginning reader, very amusing.


Includes an appalling range of racial and ethnic stereotypes. Part of a series featuring Lefty Locke (a pseudonym for [fictional] Phil Hazelton, just as "Burt L. Standish" is a pseudonym for Gilbert Patten, creator of the Frank Merriwell stories). Here, Locke takes on the management of the Blue Stockings, even though he's sure that some infamy is afoot. With the help of a deaf-mute pitcher named Mysterious Jones, who, surprisingly, is not all he seems to be, Lefty gets to the bottom of things and saves the club. Most of the book is taken up not with baseball but with front-office maneuverings and contract negotiations, reflecting public fascination with such things, which was as strong in the Federal-League era as in the 2000s. But there is one satisfying fistic donnybrook in a den of cocaine fiends.


Well-done of its type, with the Wishbone character cleverly worked into a perceptive story about race and American civic history. See also Slote's Finding Buck McHenry and also Stolz's Coco Grimes.


Winning line drawings by Wiese are the high point here.


Juvenile baseball Faust; maybe not original, but deftly told.


The title character (the veteran ballplayer) is well-evoked, but this intermediate chapter book lacks dramatic interest or plot tensions. For other versions of the theme, see Slote's Finding Buck McHenry, Steele's Forgotten Heroes, and Gorman & Findley's Stumptown Kid.