Opening Day. The National Anthem. Throwing out the first pitch. Peanuts and Cracker Jacks. These books capture the spirit of the American pastime. From dedicated sports authors Mike Lupica, Tim Green, and John Feinstein to those branching out into new territory, every book on this list is a winner.
Mascot by Antony John
Noah is a former rockstar catcher on his baseball team. Now he’s cynical, sarcastic, and bitter after a car crash left him paralyzed and his dad dead. He’s given up, sitting on the sidelines like a mascot. But there’s a few people who are determined to pick him up, dust him off, and convince him to get back in the game called life. Uplifting story with lessons galore.
Soar by Joan Bauer
Jeremiah was abandoned in an office break room when he was 9 months old. Walter found him, adopted him, and stood by him when he needed a heart transplant. Now Jeremiah is in middle school and lives for baseball, even though he can’t play. When the middle school team at his new school is on the brink of extinction, he decides to get a team together and be the coach.
King of the Bench: No Fear! By Steve Moore
Steve has no athletic ability, but he decides to try out for his school’s baseball team to please his dad. He does well enough to make the team, but during tryouts another kid is beaned in the nose and rushed to the hospital. Now Steve has a fear of the ball. Coach benches him for the whole season, but during the championship game a series of events puts Steve at bat at a critical moment.
The DH by John Feinstein
This is the third book in the Triple Threat series. Alex Myers and Matt Gordon are teammates once again. Matt surprises everyone by being even better at baseball than football. Agents are all over him and he’s thinking about graduating at the end of his junior year to join the pros. Then Matt’s temper gets the best of him and he throws an outside ball that hits the batter in the head. He’s suspended for the rest of the season unless Alex’s attorney dad can get him exonerated.
Baseball Great by Tim Green
Josh’s dad is controlling when it comes to baseball. He used to be a professional player and wants the best for his son who shows real promise. He pulls him from the school team to play for a league team where he has a better chance of being noticed by scouts. His new coach, Rocky Valentine, is ruthless. Josh realizes something isn’t right when an older kid gives him a pill sanctioned by the coach.
The Big Field by Mike Lupica
Hutch and his dad don’t have a good relationship. All Hutch wants is for his dad to take an interest in his baseball skills. Practice with him. Come to his games. Be proud. Then there’s D-Will, the player who took Hutch’s position as shortstop and thinks he’s better than anyone else on the team. He and Hutch have a growing jealousy that threatens the team as they head into the Florida championship game.
The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop
Quinnen loves baseball. Before her sister died she was the starting pitcher for her summer baseball team. Without her sister in the stands, she can’t play. It takes two players from her town’s minor league team to help her come to terms with her sister’s death. Hector teaches her that you must face your fear and get back in the game. Brandon teaches her that sometimes the ones who annoy you the most are the ones you will miss the most.
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages (Historical)
11-year-old Kate pitches better than all the boys her age. After she makes the Little League team, she’s cut when the coach realizes she’s a girl. The rule manual clearly states that girls are not allowed in Little League. Kate’s determination to fight the rule leads to lots of research and interviews with the women who defied the gender barrier in baseball.
Goodbye, Mr. Spalding by Jennifer Robin Barr (Historical)
Jimmie Frank and his best friend Lola live in the row houses across from Shibe Field, home of the Philadelphia A’s. The country is in the throes of the Great Depression and money is tight. The row house rooftops offer a cheap, unobstructed view of the game, but Mr. Shibe isn’t happy about the money he’s losing in ticket sales. He decides to build a wall, but Jimmie will do anything to stop it. Based on true events.