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Native American Baseball Pioneer

by Bill Wise & illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-58430-269-8
Publisher: Lee & Low

Capped by a climactic 1897 at-bat against the New York Giants’ fireballer Amos Rusie, this short profile highlights the achievements of the first verifiable Native American to play in the Major Leagues. Farnsworth imparts a strong sense of character and period by posing his slender, dignified, smooth-skinned athlete in old-time uniforms against hazy historical settings, but Wise covers a general lack of specific detail with probable inventions—“On the baseball diamond Louis felt like a king.” “With a heavy heart, Louis made his decision.”—and describes how Sockalexis overcame family and racial prejudice in such a heavily earnest tone that he becomes more of a figurehead than a human being. An illuminating afterword—that explains how Sockalexis not only influenced his team’s name change from the Cleveland Spiders to the Indians, but more importantly, helped to pave the way for both other Native American players and, later on, African-American ones too—doesn’t bring him any closer to readers, but definitely justifies knowing about him. (source notes) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)