Baseball legends of yesteryear come alive more or less alphabetically in Nash’s pithy verses.
Twenty-four players of the first half of the 20th century are profiled in playful, humorous short poems with an ABCB rhyme scheme. When they were written, in 1949, Cobb, Ott and the others would have been familiar to contemporary readers. Although modern youngsters might recognize Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, most of the players here will be ancient, unknown history to them. Wisely, the verses are accompanied by statistical information and delightful, large-scale, close-up depictions of the players in action, rendered by Payne in layers of colored pencil, acrylics, water colors and a variety of other media. Following each group of three or four verses, and headed by a diminutive version of the appropriate illustration, Nash’s daughter Linell Nash Smith provides more detailed information about each player. She also contributes a charming introduction in which she recalls memories of sharing her father’s deep love of the game. Nash concurs. “I is for me, / Not a hard hitting man, / But an outstanding all-time / Incurable fan.”
Not for the casual fan, but a work that can be joyfully shared by young baseball enthusiasts with parents and grandparents, who will add their own memories of favorite players of later eras. Lovingly nostalgic. (Informational picture book/poetry. 9 & up)