Strike Three! by Clair Bee
Four out of five stars
One of the best writers of juvenile sports fiction succeeds once again. In this book serial sports star Chip Hilton is in high school and the baseball team has a problem. They have only two pitchers but both are left-handed and one throws only slow stuff while the other has a major attitude problem. Chip is the veteran catcher that knows how to play the game, but the pitcher with the problem refuses to cooperate, often throwing the wrong pitch.
Chip goes out of his way in trying to solve the problem, but gets nowhere. Eventually, Coach Rockwell learns the truth and the problem pitcher is booted off the team. Chip has been working out with Soapy as catcher, so he is pressed into service as a pitcher and pitches the team into the state championship tournament.
There is a deep social undercurrent to this book, the proverbial one side of town versus the other side of town. Much of the attitude problem is a consequence of growing up in a tough neighborhood and having to fight for your rights against others.
There is a main weakness in the book. The problem is that it takes so long for Coach Rockwell to learn why Chip is suddenly so weak a catcher that he commits several passed balls. Experienced baseball men can spot problems like the pitcher crossing up the catcher from the dugout and Coach Rockwell is one of the best.
Overall, this is a book that remains exciting while being dated. Written in 1949, there are a few points that retain the thought processes of that era. To some, that makes it unworthy, but for others it is the charm of nostalgia.