Shortstop from Tokyo, by Matt Christopher
Five out of five stars
The moral of this simple and fast moving story is one that could be expressed outside the realm of sports. Stogie Crane is slated to be the starting shortstop for the Mohawks, a little league baseball team. However, Sam Suzuki’s family moves into the area from Tokyo, Japan and Sam is faster with a stronger arm. Sam is also a more solid hitter than Stogie, so he is afraid that he will lose his position.
Rather than be philosophical about the change, Stogie expresses a great deal of jealousy, even to the point of playing a dirty trick on Sam. As is so often the case, the trick just makes Stogie feel bad and does not really have the intended effect. Furthermore, Stogie’s focus on his emotions leads to a decline in the quality of his play and he loses his starting position. After some realistic reappraisal, Stogie swallows some pride and makes apologies and amends. The team comes alive once more and wins the big game in the last inning.
This story features the destructive nature of emotions more than it is about competitive sports. Life is full of situations where there is the real or only perceived threat of being replaced by someone better. How you cope with these situations will do a lot to determine how successful you manage to be. This is a lesson in working with people rather than being angry about what they do, especially when they are only doing their job.