Katy’s such a good pitcher that she is accepted as one of the boys on the local sandlot in 1957 San Francisco.
She calls herself Casey and tries out for Little League as a boy. She makes the team, but her ruse is discovered, and she is ruled ineligible. But Katy is from a family of strong, highly educated women, and she will not give up. In a reply to her letter to Little League headquarters, she is informed that the game had always been solely for males. Determined to find proof that girls have played baseball, Katy meticulously begins her research, enlarging her parameters to dovetail it with an assigned fifth-grade project. Her first discovery is of Jackie Mitchell, the girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1931. She delves deeper and discovers that “girl’s baseball had a lot of history, but not a lot of now.” Klages seamlessly interweaves Katy’s research with the world-changing events of 1957, from Sputnik to Little Rock, allowing readers to access the information with Katy. She is Jewish, and her friends are Jewish, Japanese, African-American, white, and more—both ethnicity and race play important roles in the tale. Katy can’t win the battle, but readers with be enthralled by both her spirit and the stories of the real women of baseball, thumbnail bios of whom appear in the backmatter.
A grand slam in every way. (author’s notes, glossary, recommended reading, acknowledgements) (Historical fiction. 8-12)