Farm Team

Farm Team

4.6 3
by Will Weaver

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Farm Team VS. Town Team

Milking, haying, and planting leave Billy Baggs very little time for the thing he loves most--baseball. So when his mother suggests building a baseball field in their cow pasture and inviting the neighbors to play, Billy is willing to give it a try. After all, a farm team has to be better than no team...or does it?


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Farm Team VS. Town Team

Milking, haying, and planting leave Billy Baggs very little time for the thing he loves most--baseball. So when his mother suggests building a baseball field in their cow pasture and inviting the neighbors to play, Billy is willing to give it a try. After all, a farm team has to be better than no team...or does it?

With Gina Erickson in right field, Big Danny Boyer is left, and Skinner, the aging Labrador retriever, in center, the team's lineup is a joke. But who'll get the last laugh when they play the big game--Billy, or his arch rival, King Kenwood?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weaver (Striking Out) combines wickedly sharp wit with a love of baseball and intimate knowledge of farm life to yield an emotionally satisfying tale. With a classic triumph-of-the-underdogs theme, simplistic resolution (all anyone needs to iron out his problems, it seems, is to play a little baseball) and cinematic climax, Weaver seems to be writing with Hollywood in mind-Lake Wobegon meets Field of Dreams. But the story is peopled with such acutely observed characters and, after its foreboding opening, infused with such joyous optimism that its well-worn ground poses few problems. In northern Minnesota, Billy Baggs, 14, has to forgo playing baseball to work the family dairy farm after his father, Abner, lands in jail. Determined to have fun despite-or rather because of-grim Abner's absence, mother Mavis circulates flyers inviting one and all to Friday night baseball, to be played on the diamond she and Billy make in a cow pasture. Almost magically the game unites the locals and raises their self-esteem, from migrant Mexican farmworkers to a slatternly teenage mother to Billy himself. In a good old-fashioned ending, our hero bests his nemesis (the town team's star player), earns Abner's grudging respect and wins the admiration of the girl who makes his heart sing. Ages 12-up. (June)
The ALAN Review - Jim Brewbaker
Will Weaver's Farm Team is a stylistically solid, occasionally powerful, fast read. Thematically, though, Weaver attempts too much. Billy Baggs, a fourteen-year old whose father is in jail, must run the family farm with Mavis, his mother. Billy rises to the challenge. Mavis decides that farm kids need a chance to play summer baseball; so she and Billy create a field. Before long, a team is formed out of a ragtag bunch that includes the stereotypical Aaron, a gifted Jewish boy, and two Mexican boys, sons of migrant workers. Skinner, Billy's dog, even gets into the act. A game between the farm team and townies concludes the story predictably. Weaver's blend of serious and lighter themes almost works, though Farm Team almost reads like two pretty good books. Weaver, one hopes, will decide which story he wants to tell before his next novel. If he does, young readers have much to look forward to.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
The Farm Team is exactly that-a team whose members are from farms. Weaver tells a riveting story that deals with adult despair, the social gap between rich and poor kids, and migrant labor-all woven together by that all-American game, baseball. Not for fans only, and not just a boy's story.
Debbie Carton
Billy Baggs is a painfully shy 14-year-old farm boy with a passion and talent for baseball. When Billy's antisocial father is sentenced to three months in jail for demolishing a used-car lot with his Caterpillar tractor, Billy, who must assume the responsibility for the family dairy farm, sees his dreams of playing City League summer baseball disappear overnight. Billy's mother, Mavis, organizes a ragtag farm team baseball league, which includes Mexican migrant workers, the girls next door, and even the family dog. The farm team proves surprisingly good and eventually challenges the city team to a game. This fast-moving, engaging novel will appeal not only to baseball fans, but also to anyone who enjoys the satisfaction of seeing the underdog triumph. Although there are a few stereotypes, among them, an overly protective Jewish mother, most of the characters are believable and well developed, and the action scenes, especially the baseball episodes, are particularly compelling. A sequel to "Striking Out" (1993), this will be welcomed by teens who already know Billy Baggs, but it easily stands on its own considerable merit.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.49(h) x 1.19(d)
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Orange baseballs. A dozen orange balls flew between two lines of boysfacing each other. The balls smacked into leather gloves with a continuous sound like popcorn popping. Rubber-soled shoes chirped on the maple-wood floor as the voices of eighth graders laughed and echoed in the old gymnasium.

"Get good and warm," Coach Anderson warned the boys. "You'll need it today."

There were instant groans. It was March 28 at the Flint middle school--the first day of spring baseball practice--and nobody wanted to go outside.

One boy, arriving late, stopped in the doorway. Billy Baggs was a tall, skinny farm kid with yellow hair and patched blue Jeans. He stood exactly half in and half out of the gym, his blue eyes scanning the even number of boys, all paired. One of the closest boys spotted him; he pointed at Billy and whispered something to another kid, Billy's clothes were shabby and small on him.

"Billy Baggs is here--I told you he'd come!" another voice shrilled. It was Tiny Tim Loren, the ultimate pest.

The coach looked tip from his clipboard. Oswald Anderson was a round, middle-aged, bearlike man, and with the easy jog of a formerathlete he trotted over to Billy. The other ballplayers glanced toward Billy, then made it a point to look away. As, Tim hopped up and down and waved to Billy, an orange baseball whizzed and plunked him in the ribs.

"Owwww!" Tim croaked.

The other players cracked up with laughter.

"Watch the ball all the way into your glove, Tim!" the coach called back.

Tim scuttled after the ball, clutching his ribs.

Coach Anderson arrived at the doorway. "I waswondering if I'd see you today, Billy," he said with a smile.

Billy shrugged. "Thought I'd check it out," he mumbled. Because of his crooked top teeth, which this year had begun to jut out in front, he had developed a habit of keeping his mouth mostly closed when he talked.

"Glad you did, glad you did." The coach wrote down Billy's name on his clipboard, then picked up his own glove plus one of the orange baseballs. "Come on in. Let's loosen up the old hinge."

Billy stepped through the doorway. The coach pointed to a spot, and Billy got into line.

His first toss went high over the coach's head. The ball hit with a thunkagainst the heavy curtain of the auditorium's stage; dust puffed, and a darker spot remained on the old velvet.

"Easy does it," Coach called, heading after the ball. "Loosen up first."

"If you'd been here on time, you'd be warmed up by now," King Kenwood remarked. Kenwood was the ace pitcher. He didn't look at Billy when he talked--he didn't look much at anybody when he talked. Now he continued to throw with a round, easy motion, like a deer bounding, like a trout arcing out of the water and over a dam. King was shorter than Billy but strong in the shoulders and with darker hair, and looked older. He also wore a bright new San Francisco Giants warm-up jacket. That was because his older brother was a pitcher--a real pitcher-in Triple A ball. Billy ignored Kenwood. That was his personal goal this year. Ignore King Kenwood. Otherwise there would be trouble.

After a few more tosses the coach blew his whistle. "Okay, boys, everybody outside."

"Outside? Oh man!" There were loud groans and fake sobbing noises.

"Hey-thirty degrees is better than ten below zero," the coach replied, herding them out the door.

"You wouldn't make us go outside if it was ten below!" Tim Loren said.

"Try me," the coach said.

Outside there were snowbanks. Not snowbanks all over, for Flint was in northern Minnesota, not Alaska; however, where the sun didn't strike directly, there were thick, dirty piles of snow left over from the long winter. The sun was not shining at all.

Trotting, shivering, the boys crossed the street to the ball field. A few of the boys, among them King Kenwood, had put on cleats, which clattered sharply on the frozen asphalt. Billy had only his old, busted-out tennis shoes.

Arriving, they found the outfield fence buried in snow. Closer in, in short center field, withered brown grass showed through the frozen crust. The infield was bare, but the areas around the bases were frozen pools of mud. This was the freezing-thawing-freezing time of year in the upper Midwest.

"We can't play here--the field is lousy," someone muttered. It sounded like Kenwood.

"Who said that?" the coach called.

Everybody looked around; nobody snitched.

"Good. I didn't think I heard anything," the coach called. "Come on-shake a leg-spring is here, boys!"

There were more groans.

"I don't believe in gymnasium baseball, nossiree," the coach said as they inspected the frozen field. "First, you can't see the ball in the fluorescent lights. Second, baseballs are tough on the hardwood basketball floor, And third, baseball is an all-weather game, boys."

"You call this weather?" Doug Nixon muttered.

"Cold is the Minnesota advantage," the coach said to his shivering team. "It works for the Vikings, it works for the Twins, it's gonna work for the Flint Sparks, right?"

There were a few half-hearted cheers.

"Outfielders take your positions, infielders find your bases. I'm going to hit a few. Catch and throw home to Butch or King."

That was Butch Redbird, the regular catcher, and of course King Kenwood, who acted like some kind of assistant coach most of the time.

Jogging in place, booting, their breath puffing in the chilly air, the boys lined up. Billy took a spot in right field. Tiny Tim Loren, at the end of the line, began to make snowballs and goof off.

Farm Team. Copyright � by Will Weaver. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

In addition to his award-winning Billy Baggs novels Striking Out, Farm Team, and Hard Ball, all of which are ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Will Weaver is the author of two books for adults, Reed Earth, White Earth and A Gravestone Made od Wheat. He is the winner of both the McKnight and the Bush Foundations' prizes for fiction.

Mr. Weaver teaches English and creative writing part-time at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota. Memory Boy, his latest book for young adults, was recently cited by ALA Booklist.

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