Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball

Sally Cook, Author, James Charlton, Author, Ross MacDonald, Illustrator
Sally Cook, Author, James Charlton, Author, Ross MacDonald, Illustrator , illus. by Ross MacDonald. S&S/ McElderry $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4169-1207-1
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With a catchy, conversational style, the authors present a potpourri of anecdotes and facts that reveal the many ways baseball has changed over the years. One of the many entertaining aspects of the book is the way the writers weave insider slang into the narrative, highlighted in bold and defined in the margin (e.g., "gappers: hits between outfielders"; "tweeners: hits between infielders"). Fans will lap up details of the evolving style of the players' uniforms, the evolution of the jerseys' numbering system, the genesis of some of the stars' nicknames, and the ways that teammates have "doctored" balls and bats to enhance their performance. Among the kid-pleasing bits of trivia are the facts that, with only one umpire in the field in professional baseball's early days (rather than the current total of four), incidents of cheating regularly occurred, including players running directly from first to third base, and fielders tripping base runners. The book provides dates for events and incidents on a spotty basis, rendering some of the comparisons between yesteryear and the present murky. With a signature style that recalls vintage cartoons, MacDonald's (Another Perfect Day ) watercolor and pencil crayon illustrations pleasingly convey the text's lighthearted tone. Baseball buffs will find this a diverting—and occasionally wild—outing indeed. Ages 6-10. (Feb.)

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