cover image Fair Ball!: 14 Great Stars from Baseball's Negro Leagues

Fair Ball!: 14 Great Stars from Baseball's Negro Leagues

Jonah Winter. Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-39464-2

Certain to be a hit with kids who take baseball history seriously, Winter's (Diego) handsome volume devotes a spread each to 14 stars of the Negro Leagues. Balancing stats with engaging trivia and anecdotes, the author will open readers' eyes to the injustices of segregated baseball: pitcher Satchel Paige, for example, completed some 2600 games, almost 2000 more than the official world champion, Cy Young. Winter also slips amusing lore into his conversational text, e.g., speedy Cool Papa Bell once ""hit a ball up the middle--then supposedly ran so fast, he was hit by his own ball and called out""; center fielder Oscar Charleston caught fly balls with his back to them and sometimes did a somersault before catching a ball. Reminiscent of baseball card pictures (baseball cards were never issued for Negro League players), Winter's full-page illustrations of his subjects run the gamut from sharp, almost photographic likenesses to less-defined images; and from seemingly posed portraits to on-field action shots. This picture book joins with such full-length nonfiction as the McKissacks' Black Diamond: The Story of the Negro Baseball League and William Brashler's The Story of Negro League Baseball to help set some records straight. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)