Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of Baseball
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Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of Baseball

by Sally Cook, James Charlton, Ross MacDonald


Discover what it was like before there was a pitching mound or players had numbers on their jerseys. Learn how Babe Ruth got his nickname, why Brooklyn's team was called the Dodgers, and what Roger Clemens gave to keep his lucky

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Discover what it was like before there was a pitching mound or players had numbers on their jerseys. Learn how Babe Ruth got his nickname, why Brooklyn's team was called the Dodgers, and what Roger Clemens gave to keep his lucky number 21 when he switched teams. See what clever ways players have found to win — even ways to cheat! Sprinkled throughout are definitions of baseball's weird and wacky vocabulary, from a meatball to Uncle Charlie.

Find out which player was traded for a bag of prunes, but don't trade this book for anything! Ross MacDonald's lively pictures bring fans close to the action with plenty of mischievous fun in this free-swinging tribute to the boys of summer.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a charming and hilarious tale that fantasizes about the beginnings of baseball. A sure hit with boys.” —James Patterson (USA Weekend)
Publishers Weekly

With a catchy, conversational style, the authors present a potpourri of anecdotes and facts that reveal the many ways baseball has changed over the years. One of the many entertaining aspects of the book is the way the writers weave insider slang into the narrative, highlighted in bold and defined in the margin (e.g., "gappers: hits between outfielders"; "tweeners: hits between infielders"). Fans will lap up details of the evolving style of the players' uniforms, the evolution of the jerseys' numbering system, the genesis of some of the stars' nicknames, and the ways that teammates have "doctored" balls and bats to enhance their performance. Among the kid-pleasing bits of trivia are the facts that, with only one umpire in the field in professional baseball's early days (rather than the current total of four), incidents of cheating regularly occurred, including players running directly from first to third base, and fielders tripping base runners. The book provides dates for events and incidents on a spotty basis, rendering some of the comparisons between yesteryear and the present murky. With a signature style that recalls vintage cartoons, MacDonald's (Another Perfect Day) watercolor and pencil crayon illustrations pleasingly convey the text's lighthearted tone. Baseball buffs will find this a diverting�and occasionally wild�outing indeed. Ages 6-10. (Feb.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Vicki Foote
Written in a lively conversational style, this book about baseball is bursting with fun facts. Earlier times are described that include how the team colors and uniforms were chosen and how players were given numbers. More interesting facts are given about how players and teams got their nicknames. A "Tricks of the Trade" section tells about different kinds of cheating that were allowed, and some kinds of cheating that were attempted but eventually not allowed throughout the years. There are lots of facts about "doctoring balls and bats" that have occurred in past and present time. Listed throughout the text are baseball terms, such as "give him the hook" and "banjo hitter," with definitions. Incidents involving some of baseball's famous players are described. The illustrations are amusing, colorful, and coincide perfectly with the rambunctious descriptions of baseball shenanigans that are included in this appealing nonfiction book.
School Library Journal

Gr 3�6
Segments of this light and breezy overview focus on uniforms, players' numbers, catchers' equipment, team names, players' nicknames, tricks, trades, and more. Throughout, there's a delightful emphasis on the game's colorful lexicon of words and phrases. Many of the terms reflect baseball's humble beginnings: in the 1880s fans were called "cranks," an "Uncle Charlie" meant a curveball pitch, and a player who "patrolled the pasture" played in the outfield. A "can of corn" (a slow-moving fly ball) meant an easy out, while a "frozen rope" (a hard-hit line drive) could spell trouble for a fielder. The text is highly readable, if loosely organized, and buoyantly carried along on the strength of MacDonald's cartoon illustrations. The watercolor and pencil-crayon pictures have an old-fashioned flavor and add plenty of detail and slapstick humor. For both fans and newcomers to the sport.
—Marilyn TaniguchiCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
When did baseball players start wearing numbers on their uniforms? How did the rules of the game change and evolve? What are the meanings of the terms "senior circuit" and "twin bill?" These and many more questions are asked and answered as the authors span the history of baseball with a liberal mixture of facts and anecdotes. There are sections concerning uniforms, team names, equipment, umpires and just about every aspect of the game. The whole package is presented in breezy, conversational language, and MacDonald's trademark lively, amusing, action-filled art illustrates many of the most unusual facts. But there are several problems. Old-style baseball slang is liberally sprinkled throughout the text, but the reader must look to margins for the definitions. The sections seem to be in no particular order, and the information flies so thick and fast that young readers might end up totally overwhelmed. Not for the casual fan, it will take a die-hard baseball aficionado to appreciate this effort. (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 12.00(h) x 3.80(d)
AD1050L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball

By Sally Cook James Charlton Margaret K. McElderry Copyright © 2007 Sally Cook and Jim Charlton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1207-1

Chapter One ... professional teams, you could get a runner out by soaking him. Ouch! It's no wonder that this practice only lasted a few years. Almost every aspect of baseball, from the rules of the game to the names of the teams, has changed over the years.

Team Colors

Just take a look at uniforms. You might think that every player - short, tall, banjo hitter, and ace - has always worn the same uniform as the rest of his teammates. Not so in 1882! That year owners decided that the players had to wear colored jerseys showing the position they played, not the team they played for.

soaking: a very early rule that allowed a runner who was off base to be put out by hitting him with a ball

banjo hitter: a poor hitter

ace: the team's best pitcher. One theory of its origin is that the word is short for Asa Brainard, an ace pitcher of the 1860s and 1870s.

The teams in Boston and Chicago wore socks whose colors became the teams' nicknames - the Red Stockings and the White Stockings (now the Red Sox and the White Sox). Players from the defunct Troy (New York) Haymakers were signed by John Day, owner of the newly formed New York Giants, but they kept the green stockings, so the team was sometimes called the New York Green Stockings. Long before the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, they discarded their green stockings for black ones.

Though the uniforms became different colors, they were all made out of heavy wool flannel, something you might wear in the wintertime. Can you imagine playing baseball in the hot sun wearing winter clothes?

In the 1880s fielders didn't wear gloves. Imagine a fly chaser playing bare-handed: no problem if the hit was a can of corn, but catching a frozen rope without a mitt? Ow! You can bet there were lots of gappers and tweeners. By the 1890s almost all the players were using leather mitts that looked like winter gloves, with a couple of strands of leather between the forefinger and thumb. Sometimes players cut off the gloves' fingers to get a better grip on the ball. In 1889 major league catcher Harry Decker was granted the first patent for a padded ...

fly chaser: an outfielder

can of corn: an easy fly ball

frozen rope: a hard-hit line drive

gappers: hits between outfielders

tweeners: hits between infielders


Excerpted from Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball by Sally Cook James Charlton Copyright © 2007 by Sally Cook and Jim Charlton. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Sally Cook's first book for children was Good Night Pillow Fight, illustrated by Laura Cornell. Ms. Cook is also the co-author, with Gene Stallings, of Another Season, a New York Times bestseller. She lives in New York City.

James Charlton is the publications director for the Society for American Baseball Research, a founding editor of the Pushcart Prize, and a judge of the Casey Award, which is given annually to the best baseball book. He has written numerous books about baseball, and lives in New York City.

Ross MacDonald's illustrations have appeared in many magazines, including the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and Time. He is also the author and illustrator of several children's books, including Another Perfect Day, which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book; Achoo! Bang! Crash! The Noisy Alphabet, which was a Publishers Weekly Best Book and a Nick Jr. Magazine Best Book; and, most recently, Bad Baby. Mr. MacDonald lives with his family in Connecticut. Visit his website at www.Ross-MacDonald.com.

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