Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Great Escape and Poetry (One Day Early)

Tomorrow I leave for (gulp) upstate New York. Yes, I did write a post on February 1st entitled Snowflakes on My Mind (and in My Books). What was I thinking?! My son will finally get all the snow he's been dreaming of, and on his birthday, no less. Happy 6th birthday, little man! So as we prepare to make our great escape to the hinterlands, I pray that Lake Ontario will turn off the snow-making machine long enough for us to enjoy some time with family and get in and out safely.

While we pack winter clothes (I can't tell you the last time I actually wore boots) and prepare for snow that reaches above the first floor windows on my parent's house, I dream of baseball, and hope that the advent of spring training brings warmth and eternal sunshine. The last time I flew, I bought a copy of Heat by Mike Lupica and read it in its entirety on the plane. I loved it. As someone who drives by the Little League Hall of Fame on every trip home to Rochester, this book found a special place in my heart. In western New York there are two AAA teams, the Rochester Red Wings and the Buffalo Bisons. However, growing up, I loved any team my older brother hated. It just made life more fun to root against him (see the annoying little sister comment in my profile). So, while he cheered for the Yankees, I cheered for the Cleveland Indians, and still do, even though I am surrounded by rabid Orioles and Braves fans.

Baseball too has been a great escape for me. I love to listen to the games and picture what's happening, though I like to watch too. I much prefer attending minor league games, just for the intimacy that being in a smaller stadium brings. As Walt Whitman said, "I see great things in baseball," and I also see great things in these terrific books for kids about the sport.
  • Teammates by Peter Golenbock - This story describes the hardships faced by Jackie Robinson when he entered the sport, and how the support of one teammate made all the difference.
  • Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki - A young Japanese-American boy in an internment camp finds that baseball gives a purpose in life and a way of passing the time. His triumph in a game played while interned helps him when he returns home to play baseball again.
  • Just Like Josh Gibson by Angela Johnson - In the 1940s, a die-hard Josh Gibson fan teaches his daughter to play baseball.
  • Mighty Jackie: The Strikeout Queen by Marissa Moss - Based on the true story of an exhibition game the Yankees played against the Chatanooga Lookouts in 1931, this book tells the story of their female pitcher, Jackie Mitchell, who faced both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
  • Mama Played Baseball, by David Adler - When Amy's father goes off to fight in World War II, her mother takes a job as a professional baseball player.
  • Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey - Katie Casey steps in to play professional baseball when the male players are called to war.
In honor of the grand old game, here is my Poetry Friday entry, just a wee bit early.
Line-Up for Yesterday by Ogden Nash

A is for Alex
The great Alexander;
More Goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander.

B is for Bresnahan
Back of the plate;
The Cubs were his love,
and McGraw his hate.

C is for Cobb,
Who grew spikes and not corn,
And made all the basemen
Wish they weren't born.

D is for Dean,
The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who's the tops?
Said correctly, I is.

E is for Evers,
His jaw in advance;
Never afraid
To Tinker with Chance.

Read the rest here.
You can read more baseball poetry at the Baseball Almanac.
Have a good weekend, all. I'll be back on Tuesday.


  1. I like the connection between baseball and poetry.

  2. I also adored Heat! And I'm a baseball fan, too (Red Sox). I do think that there's a correlation. Thanks for a great list!

  3. I've heard a lot about Heat this week (the book, not the temp.) -- thinking I'll have to pick up a copy. Thanks for all the great baseball books -- so many students who will love these. Still, your post does make me wish for green grass & sunshine!

  4. Tricia,

    TEAMMATES is a great book! I used to read it to my second grade students. It's a good way to help children learn about discrimination in sports.

    Here's a fine baseball biography: A STRONG RIGHT ARM: THE STORY OF MAMIE "PEANUT" JOHNSON. Mamie was one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues.

    THE BABE AND I is a good historical fiction picture book that touches on the hard times of the Great Depression. It was written by David A. Adler.

    Baseball Poetry Books:
    - EXTRA INNINGS: BASEBALL POEMS, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

    - AT THE CRACK OF THE BAT, compiled by Lillian Morrison

    - THAT SWEET DIAMOND: BASEBALL POEMS, written by Paul Janeczko

    And there are many different editions of CASEY AT THE BAT.

  5. Thanks for the suggestions, Tricia (and Elaine!) -- a month of books about baseball are on the horizon for my boys and me, and your ideas will get us off to a great start.

  6. Thanks so much for this list! My husband LOVES baseball, and just this weekend I said to him, "For you, I'm going to start learning about baseball so we can talk about it." The next day I saw your post. Since I love reading as much as he loves baseball, you've inspired me to start a baseball reading project for myself. Thanks!

    Oh, and I showed the Ogden Nash poem to my husband--he loved it!

  7. I love baseball and have 2 boys who love baseball also. I also do a big baseball theme in my library in the spring. I am HUGE Red Sox fan and I have some "spirited" conversations with some of my students about the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry!
    Love the poem, I had never seen it before!

  8. Tricia,

    I forgot the picture book ZACHARY'S BALL, which was written and illustrated by Matt Tavares. If you're a Red Sox fan, this is a book for you.

    Tavares did two other baseball books that I haven't read: MUDBALL and OLIVER'S GAME.

  9. Hi, I did not want you to miss a brand new book I spotted at the weekend called Barnstormers: Three Kids, A Mystery, and a Magic Ball by Loren Long & Phil Bildner aimed at ages 7 - 10. Description quoted from the publishers site Simon and Schuster goes: "Griffith, Graham, and Ruby's father passed away in the war. And now they must join their mother and their father's wartime traveling baseball team, The Travelin' Nine, on a tour of America to raise money. No one will tell the kids why the team needs money so badly. Their only clue is a baseball with a hole the size of an acorn in it that their Uncle Owen gave to them the night of their father's funeral. They know very little about its significance except that their father made it with his own two hands and carried it with him throughout the war. And when all three kids hold the ball, strange things begin to happen... "

    Gorgoous looking book in and out.