ALAN Review - Max Gertz
Connor Sullivan is the best 12-year-old baseball player around Eddie Murphy Field; the problem is, he also has its hottest temper. Connor's team, the Orioles, is on a winning streak and en route to win the championship with an undefeated season. But when Connor makes a mistake, his anger erupts like a volcano, and his position on the team is compromised. Connor needs to stay on the team, help them win a championship, and keep his temper under control, even with a pesky girl reporter, Melissa Morrow, on his case, and more issues flaring at home. Ripken's depiction of a 12-year-old little leaguer who loves nothing more than baseball is spot on. The baseball lingo throughout the novel makes it a compelling read for young baseball fans. Through the story, Connor learns about himself, his friends, and family. Reviewer: Max Gertz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Connor Sullivan seems to have it made: the seventh-grade all-star shortstop is well liked by his teammates and has a good shot at the invitation-only Brooks Robinson Camp. But he hasn't told anyone that his dad was laid off from his job as a car salesman, and that financial worries are creating tension at home. The stress starts to get the better of Connor on the field, and the previously even-tempered player starts having major meltdowns. At first, his outbursts are self-directed, but when his best friend misses a catch, Connor lashes out at him as well. After a couple of warnings, Connor is suspended for a game, and he knows that if he can't rein in his temper, Coach Hammond will oust him from the team. To make matters worse, the sports editor of the school paper got some footage of Connor losing his temper and is threatening a feature story. When Coach stops by to talk with Connor's dad, the job situation comes to light and Connor is able to vent some of his fears and frustrations. Not surprisingly, things begin to look up, and while he has a few minor setbacks along the way, he ultimately learns that he can control his reactions. Although fairly formulaic, this book has plenty to recommend it. Baseball history aficionados will enjoy Ripken's homage to fellow Oriole superstars, and the book has engaging characters and plenty of on-the-field action. Fans of Mike Lupica and Matt Christopher will be thrilled.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
Conor Sullivan's glove is "where base hits go to die," but his temper may be where his baseball dreams die. Lately, his family has been having problems; his father is out of work, there's never enough money to do the family things they used to do and he probably won't get to go to the prestigious Brooks Robinson Camp. Stress may be behind Conor's recent behaviors: smashing his batting helmet on the ground, waving a fist at the opposing pitcher, tossing his glove in rage, then kicking it past the pitcher's mound and yelling at his best friend. Conor has acquired the nickname Psycho Sully, the boy with the thermonuclear attitude. What takes this story beyond the usual sports fare is the cast of caring and well-drawn characters—teammates, family and friends, including a new girl friend—that make Conor want to shape up. Written with Ripken's obvious knowledge of the game, Conor's story rings true, with plenty of good baseball action. If Conor's not always in good spirits, the novel is, with likable characters, lively baseball action and the usual dreams of playing in the big leagues—in Conor's case, at Camden Yards. Ripken and Cowherd, like Conor and his Babe Ruth League Orioles, make a winning team. (Fiction. 8-12)
Read an Excerpt
Connor circled to his right. He had the better angle on the ball and called off third baseman Carlos Molina. "I got it!" Connor yelled, tapping his glove with his fist, wondering if he should do the Adam Jones bubble-blow as the ball floated out of the bright blue May sky.
Then he watched in disbelief as the ball kicked off the heel of his glove and rolled harmlessly to the grass. Carlos hustled to retrieve it, but not before two runs scored.
Instantly, Connor felt something welling up inside him. How did I blow an easy fly ball like that? I can't even blame the stupid sun!
Before he could stop himself, he slammed his glove to the ground in disgust. Then, convinced the glove hadn't absorbed enough punishment, he kicked it as hard as he could.
Connor didn't think a battered Wilson glove could travel that far. But this one sailed past the pitcher's mound, where Jordy, his best friend, picked it up with a shocked grin.
"That little act might make SportsCenter, bro," Jordy said, handing over the glove. "Good thing the ump had his back turned."
By now, Connor's anger had vanished, replaced by a major case of embarrassment. "With my luck, it'll be all over YouTube, too," he muttered.
Then they heard it.
Coach Hammond's voice cut the air like a whip. He stood on the dugout steps and glared at his shortstop. "Bring it in, son," he said. Turning to Marty Loopus on the bench, he said: "Marty, you're in for Connor."
Feeling his face redden, Connor trudged to the dugout as a hush fell over the crowd. It was a silence he had never heard before at a baseball game, the kind of silence you felt in a doctor's office right before he gave you a shot.
"Connor, you're better than that," Coach Hammond said gruffly. "And I'm not talking about the error. We don't lose our temper like that. Not on this team."