The 823rd Hit, by Kurtis Scaletta ISBN 9781419704468
Five out of five stars
Chad is the batboy for the minor league baseball team the Pine City Porcupines. His position requires him to occasionally perform those duties for the opposing team, so he gets to know most of the players in the league. He learns which ones are decent guys and those that are self-centered egoists. When Teddy “the Bear” Larrabee hits a home run on his birthday, he logs it as the 823rd hit of his career. Teddy has logged all his hits in a notebook starting with his first days in T-ball.
It is such a memorable hit that Teddy wants the ball back, so he sends Chad into the stands to retrieve it. The man that ended up with the ball is a longtime baseball fan that has never caught a home run ball. Therefore, he refuses to part with it, so Teddy considers the absence of the ball to be bad luck and goes into a batting slump. It is the last part of the season when both the playoffs and school are starting, creating problems for Chad. His parents will not allow him to be a batboy on nights that conflict with school.
This is a simple YA story that is about baseball and life, ending as nearly all such books do, with the big game at the end. In an interesting twist, above average player Andy Pafko is mentioned regarding a baseball card. What should have been stated is that Pafko was the left fielder over which the famous Bobby Thompson home run flew when the Giants beat the Dodgers in 1951. This is a sports book where the role of sports in the life of a boy is kept in the proper perspective.