Hothead (Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars Series #1)by Cal Ripken Jr., Kevin Cowherd
Connor Sullivan is an All-Star shortstop on his Babe Ruth team, the Orioles. He can hit and field with the best of them, but he's got one big problem: his temper. When he strikes out or makes an error, he's a walking Mt. Vesuvius, slamming batting helmets and throwing gloves. His teammates are starting to avoid him, even his best friend Jordy. His coach is… See more details below
Connor Sullivan is an All-Star shortstop on his Babe Ruth team, the Orioles. He can hit and field with the best of them, but he's got one big problem: his temper. When he strikes out or makes an error, he's a walking Mt. Vesuvius, slamming batting helmets and throwing gloves. His teammates are starting to avoid him, even his best friend Jordy. His coach is ready to kick him off the team.
To make matters worse, things aren't much better at home. His dad is having trouble finding a new job after being laid off. Money is tight. Connor's dream of attending the prestigious Brooks Robinson Baseball Camp this summer seems like just that now - a dream.
When the sports editor of the school paper threatens to do a big story on his tantrums - complete with embarassing photos - Connor realizes he has to clean up his act. But can he do it in time to regain his teammates' trust and help the Orioles win the championship against the best team in the league?
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."
Meet the Author
Cal Ripken, Jr. was a shortstop and third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles for his entire career (1981-2001). Nicknamed "The Iron Man" for his relentless work ethic and reliability on the field, Ripken is most remembered for playing a record 2,632 straight games over 17 seasons. He was a 19-time All Star and is considered to be one of the best shortstops professional baseball has ever seen. In 2007 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Since his retirement Ripken has worked as President and CEO of Ripken Baseball, Inc. to nuture the love of baseball in young children from a grassroots level. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and two children.
Kevin Cowherd has been a writer for the Baltimore Sun since 1987, is nationally syndicated by the Los Angeles Time - Washington Post news service, and is the author of Last Call at the 7-Eleven, a book of selected writings published by Bancroft Press. In 1990 he was honored by the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors for excellence in feature writing. He currently writes a sports column and blog for the Baltimore Sun. He is also a humorist, and an experienced Little League coach. He lives with his wife and three children near Baltimore.
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