A young boy and his parents gather round their brand-new radio, purchased just for the occasion, to listen anxiously and, finally, exultantly as Larry Doby leads the 1948 Cleveland Indians to World Series victory.
The boy, African-American, had been told that there was no future for him in baseball because of segregation, even though Jackie Robinson now played with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Doby had signed with the Indians. Larry Doby? Doby integrated the American League and was a brilliant hitter and fielder who got lost in the Robinson accolades. Crowe’s story captures a slice of baseball life for a family enjoying the old-time radio play-by-play and seeing in Doby’s accomplishments a sign of better times to come. Benny’s full-page acrylic paintings are cheery and portray a comfortable home setting. There’s also a dramatic double-page spread of Doby’s Game Four home run. More importantly, Benny reproduces the newspaper photograph of Doby and the Indians’ white pitcher, Steve Gromek, joyfully hugging each other cheek to cheek. It’s a photo that should stand in importance alongside the one of PeeWee Reese putting his arm around Robinson, as remembered so well in Peter Golenbock’s Teammates (1990).
A fine story about baseball that makes its point quietly and effectively. (historical note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)