Who Got Game? Baseball: Amazing But True Stories!
Who Got Game? Baseball: Amazing but True Stories, Derrick Barnes’ new book on the game that was once known as America’s “National Pastime” is a joy to read. The book’s 4-page chapters present entertaining descriptions of baseball’s most intriguing characters, its most spectacular events, and its strangest and most amazing records and achievements. We meet early 20th-century pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, who became one of the game’s greatest hurlers after losing part of his hand in a coal mining accident. We meet Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the Negro League sensation who became Major League Baseball’s oldest rookie at the age of 42. And we’re introduced to Jackie Mitchell, the 17-year-old female southpaw who struck out Yankee greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game. Along the way, we learn about baseball’s fastest pitch, its biggest comebacks, it longest game (a 33-inning affair that took 8 hours to complete), and its record for lowest attendance (a late-19th-century contest between the Troy Trojans and the Worcester Ruby Legs in which they were twice as many people on the field as there were in the stands). Author Derrick Barnes’ writing is bright and crisp and at times hilarious. He portrays the 1920s spitball specialist Carl Mays as “slathering his pitches with slobber.” And in a chapter on the game’s notorious 1983 Pine Tar Incident, he describes how Kansas City slugger George Brett’s eyes “were stoked with fire” as “he charged the umpires like a raging bull.” Visual artist John John Bajet’s vivid and colorful illustrations, which are generously featured on almost every page of the book, are the perfect complement to Barnes’ wide-eyed enthusiasm and sparkling prose.
David Shirley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.