Max Patkin had a very long and rewarding career in baseball, but it wasn’t in the way he originally planned.
He was a good-enough pitcher to earn a place in the minor leagues. In 1942 he was sidelined by an injury and joined the Navy. After surgery he was good to go: to Hawaii to play baseball with other professional players as a way of entertaining the troops. He played with and against the likes of Pee Wee Reese and Joe DiMaggio. When DiMaggio hit a very long home run against him, Max followed him around the bases, mimicking his motions and garnering laughs and cheers from players and spectators. After the war he played in the minors again, but injuries ended his playing days. But his comic routines were remembered, and he was asked to perform at exhibition games all over the country. Everyone seemed to love his over-the-top slapstick and hilarious performances. Vernick displays warm affection for Patkin, describing his antics in amusing anecdotes that are followed by quoting his signature line, “True Story!” Bower’s colorful cartoons manage to capture the essence of Max’s goofy appearance and all-out efforts to elicit every bit of fun he could invent in the game he loved so much. It was a different time.
A loving homage to the last baseball clown. (author’s note, sources) (Picture book/ biography. 8-10)