When hotshot third-baseman Ted Bell is signed by the Kansas City Royals right out of high school, he expects plenty of baseball action. Instead, he cools his heels on the bench and gets the silent treatment from coach and teammates, while aging superstar Lou Mills plays every day. Ted has joined a team near the bottom of its division; he wonders, as he watches the Royals' glum, lackadaisical play, what's in his future: a trip to the minors? a trade? Should he quit and go to college? when Mills is suddenly injured, Ted gets his chance and makes the most of it: soon he's hitting like Ted Williams and fielding flawlessly (he even starts a triple play), and his infectious enthusiasm turns the team around--by the end they're on their way to the World Series, and Lou Mills is trade-bait. For less perceptive readers, Dygard provides a friendly old relief pitcher who explains to Ted that: (a) his fellow players were just waiting for him to prove himself, and (b) winning teams need leaders. After Cebulash's Ruth Marini on the Mound series, this makes for fairly conservative wish-fulfillment, but it's expertly done and a fan-pleaser.