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San Marcos Public Library
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The boy who saved baseball

by John H. Ritter

Book Review


Publishers Weekly :
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In Ritter's enthralling third baseball tale (Choosing Up Sides; Over the Wall), developers want to come into quaint Dillontown, nestled among a California mountain range, to plow up the historic baseball field in order to make way for a new diamond-and houses and strip malls as well. When 12-year-old Tom Gallagher goes to visit Doc, the old man who owns the land, he raises an issue that gets the man to thinking: "Is it new facilities that would help this town the most, or a new spirit?" So Doc decides to let a single game of baseball determine how his land will be used. Tom finds himself working to get a small, poorly trained group of players ready for the big day. Some unlikely help arrives in the form of Cruz de la Cruz, a mysterious boy who literally rides into town (on horseback) to gear up for the pivotal game and to seek out Dante Del Gato, the legendary San Diego outfielder who supposedly possesses the "Secret of Hitting" (19 hits in as many games). Tom's fear of letting down his community mirrors the tale of Del Gato, who abandoned his team just before the World Series and lives like a hermit in the nearby hills. Ritter paints Dillontown as equal parts Mayberry R.F.D. and Twin Peaks (a homeless rapper/poet who talks into a broken cell phone, a beauty salon with the motto "We'll Chop Your Mop 'Til You Say Stop"). The author takes the cosmic view of a local story: Tom not only strives to save a patch of land but the soul of his hometown. Baseball fans will appreciate the lore, but the prose is also at times stunning ("A boy needs to read the earth.... A boy kept distant from the earth is a boy dissatisfied"), in a book filled with memorable moments. Ages 9-13.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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