a double-header for baseball fans

Just for you baseball fans out there, two stories about a couple of great players.

Growing up Pedro, written and illustrated by Matt Tavares
published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

Pedro Martinez grew up in the tropical heat of the Dominican Republic playing ball with his brothers, including big brother Ramón, the star player.

He watched with pride as Ramón left for America and turned heads with his blistering pitching for the L.A. Dodgers. But Pedro didn’t just watch. He practiced, worked hard, dreamed of joining his brother in the big leagues, even with his small stature.

That dream came true, and then some, with Pedro ultimately joining the Boston Red Sox in 1997, becoming a star pitcher, and even going to the World Series.

The story of these two brothers is inspiring, warmhearted, and joyous. Sunny, captivating, full-page illustrations dominate the pages. An Author’s Note with more details about Pedro, plus a page of his stats are included.

Mickey Mantle: The Commerce Comet, written by Jonah Winter, illustrated by C.F. Payne
published in 2017 by Schwartz & Wade Books

From the warm affection of the Martinez household to the rough, abusive childhood of Mickey Mantle — what a gulf in backgrounds! Wisely, author Jonah Winter confines commentary on Mantle’s family dysfunction to his Author’s Note, concentrating his story on Mickey’s enormous grit and success against the odds. But I found it a poignant contrast.

Mickey grew up in the rough and tumble of Oklahoma mining country. His father dreamt of his son making it big in baseball, escaping the dusty, dangerous life he led. Constant practice from toddlerhood on was his dad’s approach, yet Mickey’s sickly body did not seem capable of greatness in the early years.

Once he sprouted up, though, and bulked up — look out world! Mantle’s unmatched speed and fierce determination blasted him to the legendary status he holds.

It was never easy, though. You will be astonished at the physical hurdles Mantle had to overcome, right through the highest points in his career. Wow. Beyond impressive.

C.F. Payne’s nostalgic, slightly caricaturized portraits of all those Yankees bulge with muscle, spark with the crack of the bat,  and waft 1950s Americana our way.

There are a bunch more baseball books listed under Sports in my Subject Index. Grab some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and read up!