Desperado Who Stole Baseball [NOOK Book]


The exciting prequel to the bestselling The Boy Who Saved Baseball. The fate of a Wild West gold-mining town rests in the hands of two individuals. One is a twelve-yearold boy with a love and instinct for baseball unmatched by any grown-up. The other is the country's most infamous outlaw, on the run and ...
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Desperado Who Stole Baseball

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The exciting prequel to the bestselling The Boy Who Saved Baseball. The fate of a Wild West gold-mining town rests in the hands of two individuals. One is a twelve-yearold boy with a love and instinct for baseball unmatched by any grown-up. The other is the country's most infamous outlaw, on the run and looking for peace of mind. Together, they pair up to prove that heroes can emerge from anywhere. John H. Ritter brings the Old West to life in this prequel to his breakout success, The Boy Who Saved Baseball.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Fans of John H. Ritter's The Boy Who Saved Baseball have been waiting for this one, a prequel to that 2003 novel. The story is again set in Dillontown, California, but this is 1881 and we are introduced to a wild and colorful bunch of baseball players, miners and stakeholders on the western side of the Mississippi. Riding into town alongside a strange young man he met on the trail is young Jack Dillon. It seems that the Dillontown Nine are not only a colorful bunch of ball players, they are also very good. They are so good that the owners of the World Champion Chicago White Stockings just might play them for a very special prize—a gold bat and ball. It has been reported in Eastern newspapers that John Dillon owns the town, a gold mine and an undefeated baseball team, all of which is too much of a challenge for the city slickers to let slide. So young Jack is coming West to take his place on John Dillon's baseball team. The young stranger he meets is "Bill Henry," a desperado of the first order who is just trying to lay low, but it seems that his talent with a six shooter has given him an eagle eye—an eye that can be very useful on the baseball field. The field is set, the teams are aligned but nothing is really as it seems except that in the end, the desperado gets away with it. Ritter's use of vibrant imagery and musical phrases places this adventure right square in the annals of the oral Western tall tales—you'll want to read this one aloud, more than once. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
VOYA - Kevin Beach
This second book about the baseball-loving community of Dillontown is a historic prequel to The Boy who Saved Baseball (Philomel, 2003/VOYA August 2003). It begins back in the 1880s, when the small California mining town has tapped out its gold deposits and its eccentric leader, Long John Dillon, has become obsessed with baseball. Their local team has challenged the National League champion Chicago White Stockings to a winner-take-all match with dire consequences for the town's abandoned mine and surrounding mountains. Into the story rides young "baseballist" Jack Dillon, claiming to be the founder's long-lost nephew. Along the way he has partnered up with a stranger who might be Billy the Kid. The town falls into chaos as some greedy residents try to sabotage the team and bounty hunters arrive looking for The Kid. Jack, at best, exaggerates the truth at every turn but seems to have a great mind for tricky baseball plays that will later become standard tactics. He is a likeable character who, amidst all the baseball shenanigans, experiences his first romantic pangs over a pretty Mexican girl. Most of the team's feisty members are well developed and even Billy the Kid is depicted as a misunderstood, wronged man. The climactic game is excitingly unfolded, with cheating and inclement weather extending the match to an unexpected conclusion. Fans of Ritter's other books will enjoy the familiar humorous escapades plus the authentic, historical characters and the Western flavor of the dialogue in this rollicking outing. Reviewer: Kevin Beach
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

In this prequel to The Boy Who Saved Baseball (Philomel, 2003), once again the fate of a baseball-loving town rests on the outcome of an epic game. In the 1880s, orphaned Jack, 12, is riding west to seek out his long-lost uncle Long John Dillon, a mine owner in California. Dillontown began as a boomtown, but with its gold seemingly tapped out, the townsfolk have pinned their hopes on their mighty baseball team led by Cap'n Dillon. Jack longs to play ball alongside his uncle, but he is waylaid by a mysterious stranger who turns out to be Billy the Kid. Billy accompanies Jack on his journey, and the two forge a strong friendship, while Billy displays an unexpected talent for baseball. They arrive just in time to take part in the contest between Dillontown's champions and a team of professional players. Ritter writes in an idiom-laden, mock-epic style full of bombast and bravado. When he earns a chance to play on his uncle's team, Jack exults in "standing amongst the tobacco-chewing, whisker-chin-drooling, cuss-word-spewing brigade." Reminiscent of the works of Sid Fleischman, this tall-tale page-turner stands alone though it will be most appreciated by fans of Ritter's earlier works.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
This prequel to The Boy Who Saved Baseball (2003) teeters between preposterous and plausible as Ritter splashes his wit on a baseball tale that takes place in a Reconstruction-era mining town in the San Diego hills. Jack Dillon meets up with Billy the Kid on his way to Dillontown, which is renowned for its championship baseball. Jack hopes to have the inside track, as it's his presumed uncle who founded the town. That John Dillon is a black man who has just issued a high-stakes challenge to the National League Champion Chicago White Stockings doesn't deter Jack, a determined and optimistic kid. That John would accept this hitherto-unknown white nephew without question, that environmental consciousness could stand in the way of a gold mine and that Billy the Kid could become a whiz baseball player in a few days are just some of the examples of the fast and loose playing with history that Ritter asks readers to accept. However, fans of baseball will chortle all the way through every impossible moment. (Historical fiction. 11-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440699221
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/5/2009
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 740,993
  • Age range: 10 years
  • File size: 815 KB

Meet the Author

Baseball novelist John H. Ritter grew up playing "one-on-one" hardball with his brothers in the dry, dusty hill country of eastern San Diego County, near the Mexican border. "That sparse and wild landscape seeps into all of my work," says John, "whether the story's set in the woods of Ohio or the streets of New York. You'll find references to it in phrases such as, 'I followed a deer trace through the thicket to see what all the caterwauling was about (Choosing Up Sides).' Or, 'Of course, there were some big differences living in New York. Like having this hard sidewalk under my shoes all the time, instead of a powdery, dirt path (Over The Wall).'"

"I grew up in a baseball family," says John. "But we were also a family of musicians and mathematicians, house painters and poets. My dad was a sports writer in Ashtabula, Ohio, who moved the family out west, just before I was born, to become Sports Editor for The San Diego Union."

But when John was four, his mother died of breast cancer, and his father resettled the family in the rural, San Diego back country.

"One thing I remember about my mom is that she sang to us constantly, making up a song for each of her four children that fit our personalities perfectly. So from her, I got a sense of how to capture a person's spirit in a lyrical phrase."

Growing up in a sparse, mountainous region also helped stretch John's imagination. "Out in that country," he says, "the neighbor kids lived so far away, my brothers and I developed a half-real, half-imaginary game where we pitched and hit the ball, then dreamed up the rest, keeping the score, game situations, and full, major league line-ups in our heads." Those games proved to be good practice for dreaming up stories, too, such as Choosing Up Sides, John's award-winning first novel.

Set in 1921 Southern Ohio, it's the dramatic and inspirational story of Luke Bledsoe, a left-handed preacher's boy who is forced by his family's religious beliefs to go through life right-handed. When Luke discovers he could be a tremendous baseball pitcher—but only with his forbidden left arm—the trouble begins.

"The story was inspired by events in my childhood, having grown up during the great Civil Rights era and being confused by the notion of prejudice. I also became aware of the bias left-handers sometimes faced, such as being forced to write with their right hands, and I was mystified by that as well."

However, as a left-handed pull hitter, he'd learned something else. "In the baseball world, the lefty was treasured—pitchers and hitters. So what I did in Choosing Up Sides was to place Luke smack in the middle of these two opposing worlds and let the story unfold from there."

John's new novel, Over The Wall, "is a response to the devastation our country's leaders put us and the world through during the Vietnam War, the effects of which are still being felt by many, like a festering wound. But it's a healing book, exploring through one boy's eyes exactly what it takes to affect a healing."

Bob Dylan, the songwriter, also inspired John to write songs all through high school. "Probably more of my mom's influence," he says, "but I liked how Dylan wrote about life from a working class perspective, often with religious overtones—a blend of gospel and blues."

After high school, John attended the University of California at San Diego, where he met his wife, Cheryl, now an elementary school teacher. Like their grown daughter, Jolie, who runs her own espresso cafe, John has always preferred the self-employed life, having been a custom painting contractor for 25 years. "Even so," he says, "I always 'booked' my calendar with time to write."

And in 1994, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators honored him with the Judy Blume Award for a novel in progress. Three years later, upon the sale of his first book, Choosing Up Sides, to Penguin Putnam, he retired from house painting and realized his dream of becoming a full-time writer.

He still plays hardball, too—in an amateur league in San Diego.

"On top of all the enjoyment it brings me," he says, "I think baseball's a great metaphor for life. It's suspenseful, for one. You never know what's coming your way. And it's challenging. How do you hit a ball that dips and darts? How do you read a pitcher for clues when you want to steal a base?"

But John admits the grind of full-time writing is difficult. "No one ever encouraged me to become a writer. It just came naturally. Like being born with a good singing voice, I suppose. But the ten-hour days spent in solitude, the constant battle to get the words right, the story right, to meet deadlines—they all take their toll. Tougher than construction work, I'll tell you."

So why does he do it? "I love using that voice to say something I need to say. I love the rhythms and the musicality of language. I love discovering a good story, building it, and telling it. And when they all come together between the covers of a book, it's like magic.

"I shoot for that. I shoot for the magic. But I pray a lot, too."

Currently, John H. Ritter is the Writer in Residence for the Oceanside (CA) Unified School District, where he maintains a writing office at Stuart Mesa Elementary School and gives classroom presentations throughout the district. His work has appeared in various national publications including Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine and The Christian Science Monitor.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012


    Great story good plot and of the main charcters is billy the kid

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012


    I thought this book was great i would recommend it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011


    Best piece of literature.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2009

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    Posted December 19, 2009

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    Posted December 14, 2011

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    Posted February 22, 2011

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