Books by Timothy Tocher

Released: Feb. 1, 2011

"Bizarre" barely covers some of the wacky incidents Tocher gathers from baseball history. A trainer inserted a severed ear into "Sweet Lou" Johnson's abdomen after a bus accident (for temporary safekeeping), and it was never removed. Mets outfielder Joe Christopher was able to move his cap around by wriggling his ears. Ineffective Giants hurler Cliff Melton tipped off batters to his pitches during his delivery because his ears were so big they blocked out the stands behind his head. And that's just "All Ears," the first of nine thematic "Innings," each presented as a set of simply drawn cartoon panels threaded with terse commentary and the occasional punchline. Though a little knowledge of the game will make it easier to appreciate some of these feats and mishaps, even nonfans will wince at the account of a fan who was hit by a foul ball twice during the same at-bat, marvel at the achievements of one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott and laugh at the generally futile attempts to catch balls (or in one messy case, a grapefruit) dropped from the top of the Washington Monument, a passing stunt plane and other high points. An easy pitch, particularly to reluctant or inexpert readers. (Nonfiction browsing item. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2009

1920 is Babe Ruth's first year with the Yankees, who are sharing the Polo Grounds with John McGraw's Giants. The eccentric McGraw has acquired a wildcat he has named Bill Pennant, and he sets Hank Cobb, the young hero of Tocher's previous vintage baseball novel (Chief Sunrise, John McGraw, and Me, 2004), the task of training him. During the course of the season, Hank joins Babe Ruth and the great baseball writer Damon Runyon on some wild adventures. He also witnesses the only game-related death of a player, when Ray Chapman is struck in the head by a Carl Mays pitch. The author once again seamlessly blends fact and fiction. He recreates the era with scrupulous attention to its syntax and slang, as well as details of daily life. Ruth, McGraw and the other historical figures come alive for readers, and the fictional Hank is a sympathetic, fully developed character whose thoughts and choices are completely in sync with his time and place. An author's note provides further information about both real and imagined events. A pennant winner. (Historical fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

Hank Cobb runs away from an abusive, dangerous father. Hank plans to try out for the New York Giants and their legendary manager, John McGraw. While sneaking a ride in a train's boxcar, he meets another hopeful ballplayer who calls himself Chief Sunrise and claims to be a Seminole Indian. When they finally connect with McGraw, Chief gets his chance and makes the most of it. Hank becomes a batboy and good-luck charm. Hank's father reappears and attempts to blackmail Chief into throwing games. Chief is really Charlie Burns, an African-American who could never play in the big leagues if his heritage were known. Tocher deftly mixes facts with fiction to create a well-constructed tale with strong characters. He is scrupulous in his use of era-appropriate slang and syntax and carefully remains true to time and place in all details. An author's note further explains the racial climate of 1919 as it was reflected in baseball. Engaging and engrossing. (Historical fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >