A Baseball Story
written and illustrated by Richard Torrey
2013 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
The first sport that I remember loving to play was baseball. It appealed to all of my senses. The smell of a baseball glove was intoxicating. Putting on a baseball uniform made you feel special. You knew you were the fastest human being on the planet because you had a pair of cleats on your feet. My first baseball team was the Pirates. I played catcher and was not exactly a power hitter. It didn't matter because I had a blast playing. I was crushed when a game was rained out. There's a great scene in The Rookie where Dennis Quaid stands at the outfield fence watching a youth baseball game. In this moment, he remembers why baseball is special and how much fun it is to play. This is the feeling I had when I read A Baseball Story.
A young boy is preparing to play a baseball game. He puts on his uniform and his "bumpy" shoes. A check in the mirror reveals a baseball player. The smell of his glove is so good that he holds it up to his face as he is walking to the car. Coach Mike has the players warm up by playing catch. The mood is light as the players practice before the game. As the narrator takes the field, he mentions that his mom and dad are waving to him but that he can't wave back since he has to be ready to play. One of the strengths of this book is how the game of baseball is explained as the story unfolds. Students who aren't familiar with baseball will be able to understand the basics of the game such as hitting and playing in the field. Another aspect of this book that I appreciate is how sportsmanship is featured. Players from opposing teams congratulate each other after the game. Richard Torrey's knowledge of youth baseball is sharp as he closes the book with the best part of the game for a young player which is the after game snack. Forty years ago, our reward was a free soda after each game. The players in the book receive ice cream. It is the final of many nice touches in A Baseball Story. The joy of playing the game shines throughout. Readers will remember why baseball is still a great game.