Age Range: 8 - 12
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 Contriving, remarkably, to fashion a second thoughtful yet entertaining sports story around baseball cards (cf. The Trading Game, 1990), a practiced author counters the obscurity to which the Negro leagues' greats have been consigned in sports history. Daydreamer Jason, 11, has just been picked as the one to drop from his Little League team, the ostensible reason that a new ``expansion'' team is being formed, to include TV sports luminary Chuck Axelrod's daughter, Kim: the two have just moved to town; Chuck is the league's new director. Seeking solace at the baseball card shop, Jason makes a startling hypothesis: ``Buck McHenry,'' black star pitcher on a new card series the proprietor shows him, could be school custodian Mack Henry, who has just given him valuable pointers on his game. Tracking Mr. Henry down, Jason does find a champion-class pitcher for the new team in the form of Henry's grandson, newly arrived after his family's tragic death; Henry's identity, in doubt through much of the book, provides a mystery, a bittersweet revelation, and a satisfyingly dramatic denouement. Meanwhile the new team, after a nicely unpredictable series of vicissitudes, gets off to a good start with Henry as coach. Plot and theme are not so tightly meshed here as in The Trading Game, and the baseball history is pushed a little hard; still, the characterizations are pungent, the action (on and off the diamond) involving. A solid, accessible, rewarding story. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-021652-2
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1991