Books

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Who Got Game? Baseball: Amazing But True Stories!’ by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by JohnJohn Bajet

c.2020, Workman
$12.95
172 pages

Everybody’s supposed to stay home now.

It’s probably not the “home” you’re thinking about though. The home you want to see involves running around a diamond, cheers in your ears. Ahhh, you wanna hear that again. For now, though, you may have to make do with a home run like “Who Got Game? Baseball: Amazing But True Stories!” by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by JohnJohn Bajet.

Every day’s a great day for baseball, right? But this year, you may have to wait to watch your favorite players, so why not learn about the game in the meantime?

For starters, there was once a time when baseball was “for White men only,” and so Black players and women made their own leagues. Even so, baseball wouldn’t be baseball without guys like Andrew “Rube” Foster, who’s known as “the father of the Negro Leagues,” or “Hammerin'” Hank Greenberg, who became the first Jewish Hall of Famer, or immigrants like Ozzie Virgil from the Dominican Republic or Sadaharo Oh from Japan.

Through the years, there’ve been lots of changes to the game. For one, the spitball was outlawed in 1934, but not before a player was killed by one. Women have been invited into the game, first by women’s leagues at various times in history, and later, by the first female baseball executive. African American players were denied a chance to play so they made their own leagues, too, and eventually broke the color barrier in the majors.

In this book, you’ll read about forgiveness for a fan. You’ll read about an influential doctor who saved careers, and players who never let a little disability stop them from the game. You’ll read about “a stinking mule” who was a mascot, a guy who was hit by 287 pitches during his baseball career, and a player who had to make good on something he said.

And if you think age matters in the major leagues, read about a 42-year-old rookie, a 17-year-old strikeout pitcher, and baseball’s youngest major leaguer …

For a kid who lives and breathes baseball, this lock-down must be hard. But dreaming about getting on the ball field isn’t all they can do at this time. They can also read “Who Got Game? Baseball: Amazing But True Stories.”

The thing your child will love most is that this book isn’t filled with things he or she already knows. Author Derrick Barnes and illustrator JohnJohn Bajet dug out tales from the dugout, sure, but they also include stories of support staff and non-players who influenced the game. Young readers will learn about the game from its very inception, as well as modern stories of baseball, and there’s some science hidden in sidebars. Even just browsing the illustrations inside this book will invite young players in, and keep them in their (bleacher) seats.

Absolutely, a true baseball fan will love this book, especially if they’re Little Leaguers or kids ages 8 to 15. For them — and you — “Who Got Game? Baseball: Amazing but True Stories!” will be a big hit.

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