Champions on the Bench by Carole Boston Weatherford, Leonard Jenkins |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Champions on the Bench

Champions on the Bench

by Carole Boston Weatherford, Leonard Jenkins
     
 

In 1955, the Cannon Street YMCA chartered the only African American Little League in South Carolina. That same year, sixty-one all-white teams pulled out of the South Carolina Little League State Tournament so they would not have to play the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars. This story, inspired by the true events of that time, follows one young ballplayer, Cleveland,

Overview


In 1955, the Cannon Street YMCA chartered the only African American Little League in South Carolina. That same year, sixty-one all-white teams pulled out of the South Carolina Little League State Tournament so they would not have to play the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars. This story, inspired by the true events of that time, follows one young ballplayer, Cleveland, through that fateful season.

Cleveland dreams of playing baseball like his heroes Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. He believes he will get that chance when he makes the Cannon Street All-Star team. But things don’t go as planned when Cleveland and his teammates find out they are not allowed to play in the tournament despite their talent and hard work during the season. Yet even in the face of such prejudice, the Cannon Street All-Stars find a way to make their families and coaches proud.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Weatherford (Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins) again bases her tale on a true incident of prejudice in mid-20th century America. As the summer of 1955 begins, the young African-American narrator cheerfully observes, "All my baseball dreams seemed possible." Willie Mays led the majors in home runs and Hank Aaron made the all-star team. Playing in "the only colored Little League in all of South Carolina," Cleveland is thrilled when his coach selects him to pitch for the team. At the end of the season, his coach chooses Cleveland to play on the Cannon Street All-Stars team in the state tournament, where a victory would send the boys to the World Series play-offs. But Cleveland's dreams are dashed when his coach announces that the league's white teams had refused to play their team and instead had formed their own whites-only tournament. The boys travel to Pennsylvania to watch the Little League World Series from the stands, and the bittersweet experience leads Cleveland to declare he's never going to play ball again. His coach, however, bolsters his spirits: "You have to keep playing, so you'll be ready when you finally face the white teams." A concluding author's note fills in the details of the events that inspired her story. Punctuated with electric hues, Jenkins's (Langston's Train Ride) somewhat murky pencil, acrylic and spray paint illustrations convincingly convey the sympathetic Cleveland's range of emotions. Ages 5-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Vicki Foote
A boy named Cleveland tells the story of playing baseball in 1955 on the only Little League team in South Carolina for African Americans. The story is based on the actual events that occurred when the team entered the postseason tournament at the Little League Baseball World Series. All of the other teams of white players refused to play his team. Consequently, the Little League barred the white leagues from the tournament. The white leagues formed their own program and tournament. Cleveland's team was invited by the Little League to be its guests at the World Series in Pennsylvania but could only watch the games because their team had won by forfeit rather than by playing. Cleveland describes how they practiced and played while they dreamed of making it to the World Series. Soon after their eventual disappointment, however, they were able to find a hero in Jackie Robinson when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Dodgers won their first World Series championship. The "Author's Note" explains further details and provides the names of the team players and photographs of the Little League team in 1955 and 2002. Realistic illustrations in rich colors provide a good accompaniment to the text. Readers will empathize with the young boy's experiences.
School Library Journal

Gr 1�4
It's 1955, major league baseball is newly integrated, and young Cleveland signs up to play on one of the four teams in the Cannon Street YMCA Little League-the only colored Little League in South Carolina. Earning a spot as pitcher, he is chosen at season's end for the league's all-star squad, which will compete in the state tournament. But the athletes' hopes are crushed when all of the state's 61 white teams refuse to play the black team, eliminating them from the tournament and a chance at the World Series. The National Little League invites Cleveland's team to Williamsport, PA, to watch the event from the stands, but it is a bittersweet experience for the boys. At September's end, Cleveland and his father cheer as Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series. A two-page author's note explains that the tale is based on true events and includes team photos. Done in pencil, acrylic, and spray paint, Jenkins's color-saturated illustrations imbue the text with warmth, passion, and nostalgia. This is a powerful story, well told. By placing one boy's segregated baseball summer in the context of an integrated World Series, Weatherford gives readers a blazing picture of our country in the early struggles to abolish segregation. A first choice.
—Mary HazeltonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
In 1955, African-Americans were playing in the major leagues, but much of America remained segregated. The Cannon Street YMCA fielded the only all-black, official Little League teams in South Carolina. At the end of the season, their all-star team was set to play in the state tournament that would lead to the national play-offs. But racism reared its head and all the white teams refused to play them, holding their own tournament instead, without sanction by the Little League organization. The Cannon Street team, state champions via forfeit, was invited to the World Series as spectators only. Weatherford treats the tale as memoir. Cleveland, a fictional member of the team, narrates the events and the "what-ifs" without bitterness, but with a sense of frustration and loss, still retaining a love for the game. Jenkins's strong illustrations, rendered in pencil, acrylic and spray paint, bring everything vividly to life. There is no happy ending, but rather a bittersweet recognition that wrongs cannot always be made right. (Picture book. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803729872
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/2006
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
11.20(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
7 - 8 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“This is a powerful story, well told. By placing one boy’s segregated baseball summer in the context of an integrated World Series, Weatherford gives readers a blazing picture of our country in the early struggles to abolish segregation. A first choice.”—School Library Journal

Meet the Author


Carole Boston Weatherford lives in High Point, North Carolina.
Leonard Jenkins lives in New York City.

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