Heroes of Baseball: The Men Who Made It America's Favorite Game



Their names echo through the halls of time and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Their feats are legendary. They never quit, and they never backed down. They inspired generations of Americans to push themselves to do their very best. They were, ...

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Their names echo through the halls of time and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Their feats are legendary. They never quit, and they never backed down. They inspired generations of Americans to push themselves to do their very best. They were, and remain, the heroes of baseball.

Hitting monster home runs, pitching perfect games, making impossible catches, and stealing home during the World Series — these are the kinds of feats that turn baseball players into baseball superstars. But it takes more than great feats to become a hero of the game.

Every generation needs its own heroes, and in each generation that need is answered differently. Heroes reflect the times and societies in which they live and work. The impact made by baseball's heroes affects the way our society perceives itself, as well as the goals we set for ourselves and for our nation. Award-winning sportswriter Robert Lipsyte presents his vision for who the heroes of the game are, and what they did to achieve their legendary status.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thoroughly entertaining book that reveals stories I had never heard before — about baseball and our country. A sneaky way to teach history." — Jim Bouton, former Yankees pitcher and author of Ball Four

"Robert Lipsyte is the very best at what he does: he writes about what's important while entertaining you all the way. No other sport has a history like baseball. This book is a marvel as the stars of the game come alive in words and rare photos. If you want to meet the men who have made America's Pastime great, here's the book for you." — Peter Golenbock, author of Red Sox Nation and Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way

Publishers Weekly
Lipsyte (The Contender) structures this lively history of the National Pastime as a collective biography of, as the subtitle states, "The Men Who Made It America's Favorite Game"-including some of its biggest stars, and a few lesser-known, but equally influential players. He begins with "Big Al" Spalding, a premier pitcher, team owner and sporting goods titan, who spearheaded the early campaign to elevate baseball from just a game into a virtuous and "uniquely American" pursuit. The author contrasts Ty Cobb's style of play ("mean") with Babe Ruth's ("larger-than-life") to chart changes in how the game is played-from "small ball" to an emphasis on Big Bats. Recent congressional hearings may lead some to quibble with his choice to include Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, but Lipsyte makes a persuasive case that their record-busting "Summer of Swat" reinvigorated fan interest in a sport that had been mired in labor turmoil for two decades. (Indeed, the best selection is on Curt Flood, the St. Louis outfielder who kicked off baseball's labor disputes with his legal challenge to the "reserve clause," which had allowed teams to trade veteran players without their consent.) Much of this material will be familiar to young baseball junkies-Mickey Mantle playing through pain, Jackie Robinson breaking the game's color barrier, Ichiro Suzuki's thrilling "rookie" year in Seattle-but Lipsyte crafts these elements into an engaging social history of 20th-century America, with bite-size sidebars about baseball cards, funny nicknames, wackiest mascots, Yogisms and a nifty timeline. Not to mention glorious, often full-page photos. Lots to pore over, and it goes down like lemonade on a hot day at the ball park. All ages. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
I was not looking forward to reading this book, since baseball has never been a sport that attracted me. I dutifully read the introduction and said to myself, well that was interesting. I did recognize many of the names, so I kept turning the pages. Yes, there are statistics for those who love to read and quote them—most home runs, most consecutive games, most stolen bases, and so on—but what was really interesting was learning about the men who started professional baseball—the players, managers, owners, and others. Those who Lipsyte chose to highlight as his heroes are probably on most people's lists, and only a few names were really new to me. Since I read the daily newspaper, I know about more of the current players and events, such as the battle between Roger Marris and Sammy Sosa, who were out to break the home run record. The behind-the-scenes information about the players brought the story of baseball into much better focus: Curt Flood and how he fought to allow players to move freely among teams; the incredible animosity that Jackie Robinson faced as he broke the racial barrier and came to be one of the true greats of the game; the shame brought on by past game fixing and gambling by one of the games great stars, Pete Rose; and the infusion and impact of players from Latin America and Japan. Lipsyte writes extremely well and his inclusion of real-life stories make this book fascinating. I read every page, looked at all of the pictures (there are plenty), and took some time to study the timeline that runs on both inside covers. If I had one small quibble, it is the occasional repetition of information, but that should not discourage anyone from reading thisexcellent history of baseball and many of its most famous players. I learned more about the game and one day I might even go to a ballpark and watch one. 2006, Simon & Schuster, Ages 10 up.
—Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-This volume has the look of a coffee-table book with its overview of baseball history and eye-catching design, with red-bordered text and numerous oversize photographs. The images, though mostly black and white, help convey the intensity of the game, such as the one of Willie Mays making a leaping catch at New York's old Polo Grounds. Chapters highlight Lipsyte's heroes: A. G. "Big Al" Spalding, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Curt Flood, and Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. The author's own opinions are perhaps what make this book notable: his arguments are lively, readable, and well documented. He remarks, for example, that in spite of Cobb's abrasive, aggressive personality, no one could imagine him gambling on or intentionally losing a game, unlike "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Some may question Lipsyte's choices: Ruth over Lou Gehrig, and Mantle over Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays, for example. He reasons that he chose Mantle both for his on-field accomplishments and the fact that he became an advocate against drugs and in favor of organ donors after his career had ended. Fans of the game are likely to find the book a lively discussion starter, with its engaging anecdotes and Lipsyte's articulate perspective.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
From the earliest days when baseball and America were young to the modern era of player-millionaires, there have been standout personalities and talents who became national heroes. Here is a history of baseball via the heroes of each era. What makes this work unique, especially for one intended mainly for children, is that these men are not presented as gods or saints. Jackie Robinson and Curt Flood stood up for their principles at great cost to themselves. Ruth and Mantle were as flawed as they were inspirational. Ty Cobb was a vicious bully, and several current players abuse drugs. Each page grabs the eye with boldly printed, well-spaced text bordered in red with sidebars in bright blue with white print. Along with well researched and clearly written narration, there is a wealth of additional information in photographs, sidebars and timelines. A gift for baseball fans. (Nonfiction. 10+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689867415
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 475,196
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Lipsyte

Robert Lipsyte is the author of The Contender and its two sequels, The Brave and The Chief. The Contender was one of the first novels to take a realistic look at teenagers and has been required reading in many American school systems for more than thirty years. Recognizing the importance of that book as well as his other works, ALA honored Lipsyte with the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 2001. For decades, Lipsyte was an award-winning sports reporter for the New York Times. Born and raised in New York, Lipsyte is a lifelong fan of baseball. In fact, as a young sportswriter covering the city's new franchise in 1962, Lipsyte briefly tried out for the New York Mets. He refers to it as "a great learning experience." Lipsyte's other sports books for young adults include biographies of Jim Thorpe, Joe Louis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Lipsyte still lives in New York City.

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