Sunday, January 5, 2020

Review of "Ball-Shy Pitcher," by Richard Summers

Review of

Ball-Shy Pitcher, by Richard Summers

Four out of five stars

 While the title and cover indicate that this is a book about youth baseball, it is in fact a baseball story embedded in one about race relations. Kenneth Patterson is a lover and collector of snakes and lizards and his family recently moved to a town on the edge of the American Desert. It is a city with whites, blacks and Hispanics, not always intermingled. Kenneth is white and his family has moved frequently for his father’s job and they recently moved to their current residence. Harold is black and arrived at roughly the same time.

 The town is largely self-segregated based on income, which generally places the whites on one side and the blacks and Hispanics on the other. Kenneth’s family live on the poorer side with the blacks and Hispanics.

 Kenneth wears very thick glasses and has never played baseball although he can run fast and has an accurate cannon for a throwing arm due to years of throwing rocks at targets. He is very timid and has an extreme tendency to duck and cover when a ball is thrown near him. Harold convinces Kenneth to try out for the Little League program and he manages to make the team and rapidly improves through the season to become a star player for a very successful team.

 However, the most interesting aspect of the book are the features regarding relations between the blacks, whites and Hispanics. Specifically, the comments by the adults of the three races. All of them are reluctant to have their children playing on mixed race teams, even though the boys want to win and consider it irrelevant. When players are heckled on the field for their race, it is the adults in the stands that do it rather than the players.

 This is a good story about overcoming your physical limitations, but it is even better as a story about overcoming racial bias in order to learn to work with people that look and sound different from you. However, it is dated with the use of words now considered offensive if they were to appear in this review.

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