Hot-Corner Hank, by Jackson Scholz
Five out of five stars
In this story by one of the masters of juvenile sports fiction with a message, the main character (Hank Medini) is a talented college baseball player with a decision to make when he completes his degree. As the title suggests, he plays third base and is a superb fielder and a great hitter of college pitching. His father owns a very successful restaurant and the plan has always been that Hank would take it over.
Therefore, the decision is whether to turn pro, likely spend years in the minor leagues playing for low pay and living life in poor housing and on buses, or take an active role in running the restaurant. Hank’s decision is to sign a pro contract only if it guarantees him an immediate shot in the major leagues. This way he will know very quickly which career path he should choose.
At first, all of the teams treat his offer with disdain until the Quakers, a team with talent but in an unexplained decline, decide to take a chance on Hank. He starts slow, but shows signs of being able to learn and adapt to the greater challenges of major league baseball. At the end, he proves himself and is even given a vote of confidence from the man he is replacing.
The story presents all sides of the issues regarding whether a man pursuing a degree with significant opportunities outside of baseball should start at the bottom and pursue his dream of playing in the major leagues. Hank is a level-headed young man, so the thought processes are all very rational and not tainted with a great deal of emotion. Clearly, for most people in Hank’s situation, taking over the restaurant is the most lucrative career move.
It is a good story with a serious message about following your dreams, but always with a solid plan B behind you.