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“Bizarre” barely covers some of the wacky incidents Tocher gathers from baseball history. A trainer inserted a severed ear into “Sweet Lou” Johnson’s abdomen after a bus accident (for temporary safekeeping), and it was never removed. Mets outfielder Joe Christopher was able to move his cap around by wriggling his ears. Ineffective Giants hurler Cliff Melton tipped off batters to his pitches during his delivery because his ears were so big they blocked out the stands behind his head. And that’s just “All Ears,” the first of nine thematic “Innings,” each presented as a set of simply drawn cartoon panels threaded with terse commentary and the occasional punchline. Though a little knowledge of the game will make it easier to appreciate some of these feats and mishaps, even nonfans will wince at the account of a fan who was hit by a foul ball twice during the same at-bat, marvel at the achievements of one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott and laugh at the generally futile attempts to catch balls (or in one messy case, a grapefruit) dropped from the top of the Washington Monument, a passing stunt plane and other high points. An easy pitch, particularly to reluctant or inexpert readers. (Nonfiction browsing item. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5813-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Best suited for quick hits or casual browsing but unusually broad in scope and cast.

Tributes to 101 women who made names for themselves in sports or other athletic endeavors.

Grouped in chapters but really arranged arbitrarily, the gallery begins about a century ago with figure skater Sonja Henie and swimmer Gertrude Ederle and continues (while growing more nationally and racially diverse) up to teenage pitcher Mo’ne Davis. In between it highlights select achievements of women in sports from bowling (Marion Ladewig) to roller derby (Anne Calvello) and mixed martial arts (Ronda Rousey). “Firsts” for women, such as climbing Mount Everest (Junko Tabei), also receive nods, as do athletes who overcame childhood disabilities (Wilma Rudolph) or excelled at the Paralympic Games. Each entry focuses on career highlights and comes with a color action photo. Many also feature a quote or “Wow Factor” inset trumpeting some signal feat. The abbreviated narratives frequently leave out “women’s” as a qualifier for other significant information, so that readers who don’t know what a basketball “dunk” is may be unimpressed that Cheryl Miller made two and will come away with the impression that Kathrine Switzer won the New York Marathon outright in 1974 (she was the first woman but came in 59th overall). Still, younger readers looking for athletic role models will find plenty to choose from.

Best suited for quick hits or casual browsing but unusually broad in scope and cast. (Collective biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68330-073-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sports Illustrated Books

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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An ebullient collection of stunning comebacks, awesome athletes, and achievements both grand and dubious.

A fizzy compendium of baseball feats, firsts, and lore from Newbery Honoree and Kirkus Prize winner Barnes (Crown, illustrated by Gordon C. James, 2017).

Although Barnes doesn’t really stick to the “unheralded figures and untold stories” he says he’ll highlight, still he does tuck some less-heralded hijinks and heroes into an anecdotal rush that captures the “joy and wonderment that is baseball.” So, along with tributes to the likes of Satchel Paige and Negro Leagues founder Rube Foster, he tips a cap to Ozzie Vergil, the first Dominican major leaguer; slugger Hank Greenberg, the “Hebrew Hammer”; “Tommy John” surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe; and four African Americans who played professionally before Jackie Robinson. Not to mention a nine-inning, 49-run game and another that went 33 innings. In formal, neatly drawn cartoons, Bajet tones down some of the wilder incidents, giving his subjects—even mascots—dignified presences and, usually, welcoming smiles. Fans budding or confirmed will need to look elsewhere for an organized baseball history or highlights reel, but they will come away feeling as if they’d sat in the bleachers with a true enthusiast who’s helped them earn “some idea of how much of a challenge it was for players of color, players from outside the United States, and for women to be part of this beautiful game.”

An ebullient collection of stunning comebacks, awesome athletes, and achievements both grand and dubious. (bibliography, glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0553-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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