Just as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America's Game

Overview

Batter up for the first-ever children's book about Larry Doby, the first African-American player to hit a home run in the World Series.

The year is 1948, and Homer and his daddy are baseball crazy. Ever since last season, when their man Larry Doby followed Jackie Robinson across baseball's color line and signed on with their team, the Cleveland Indians, it's been like a dream come true. And today Larry Doby and the Indians are playing Game Four of the World Series against the ...

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Overview

Batter up for the first-ever children's book about Larry Doby, the first African-American player to hit a home run in the World Series.

The year is 1948, and Homer and his daddy are baseball crazy. Ever since last season, when their man Larry Doby followed Jackie Robinson across baseball's color line and signed on with their team, the Cleveland Indians, it's been like a dream come true. And today Larry Doby and the Indians are playing Game Four of the World Series against the Boston Braves! With a play-by-play narration capturing all the excitement of that particular game - and the special thrill of listening to it on the radio with family at home - Chris Crowe and Mike Benny craft a compelling tribute to an unsung legend. Kid-friendly and vividly illustrated, this long-overdue biography, featuring an extensive bibliography and historical note, illuminates the effect Larry Doby had on his fans as both a baseball hero and a champion for civil rights.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While numerous children’s books have been written about Jackie Robinson, this is the first dedicated to another pioneering ballplayer, Larry Doby, who joined the Cleveland Indians 11 weeks after Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Doby became the first African-American player in the American League and, in 1948, he helped the Indians win their first World Series in decades. Crowe (Mississippi Trial, 1945) tells the story of the first game in that World Series matchup through the excited first-person narration of Homer, a young baseball fan who, having been told he can’t play on his local Little League team, is looking to Doby to prove “that our people are just as good in baseball—or anything else—as whites are.” Homer and his parents listen to the game over a newly purchased radio, but readers have a better seat, thanks to Benny’s (The Listeners) atmospheric acrylic paintings, which shift between closeups of the ballpark action and Homer’s family’s elated reactions at home. A straightforward but nonetheless inspirational story of barriers being broken down, one slow step at a time. Ages 6–10. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
A straightforward but nonetheless inspirational story of barriers being broken down, one slow step at a time.
—Publishers Weekly

Crowe's story captures a slice of baseball life for a family enjoying the old-time radio play-by-play and seeing in Doby's accomplishments a sign of better times to come. Benny's full-page acrylic paintings are cheery and portray a comfortable home setting... A fine story about baseball that makes its point quietly and effectively.
—Kirkus Reviews

With an author’s note that fleshes out Doby’s historical significance, this nostalgic picture book frames Doby’s on-field heroics with a story of a father and son listening on the radio as Doby launches a game-winning home run in the World Series... A sage reminder that though the first step might be the hardest, the second is no less important.
—Booklist

Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Larry Doby isn't as well-known as his predecessor, Jackie Robinson, but he helped prove that Robinson's talent was no fluke and changed the face of professional athletics forever. Introduced by a young baseball-loving narrator who'd been banned from his Little League team (whites only) the reader learns of the color barriers and boundaries broken in the late 1940s, particularly the 1948 World Series. The young boy hurries home from his paper route to listen to the Cleveland Indians game on the radio with his father. The intensity in their faces builds as the play-by-play narration leads up to Doby's winning home run causing the whole family to celebrate. The next day as the boy prepares his papers for delivery a legendary photograph of Doby hugging a white team mate hints at monumental changes to come. The illustrations are large and rich, crossing the page gutter and bringing a larger-than-life feel to the events portrayed. A historical note and bibliography at the end give it depth and elevate it beyond story book status and make it a great way to introduce racial themes to young readers. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the National League's Brooklyn Dodgers, Doby signed with the Cleveland Indians, in the American League. While his achievement has not been as celebrated as Robinson's, the need for him to succeed was just as important. It validated Robinson's Rookie of the Year accomplishment, proving that he wasn't a fluke, and that African-American players could succeed in baseball just as well as white athletes. Doby's story—and particularly his 1948 season with the World Champion Indians—is seen through the eyes of Homer, an African-American child who is crazy about baseball. He, too, faces disappointment when his Little League coach tells him he can't play because he is black (an abruptly cruel moment in an otherwise uplifting book). Homer and his father follow Doby's every move, fully aware of the history they are witnessing. It is the familial context that gives the book its punch. Period details, such as hurrying to the local drugstore to listen to the World Series games on the radio, combine with play-by-play drama to flesh out a compelling story. Benny's acrylic paintings focus on the characters—Doby, Homer, his mother and father—placing them in the spotlight at various moments. A compelling look at one of the game's trailblazers.—Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A young boy and his parents gather round their brand-new radio, purchased just for the occasion, to listen anxiously and, finally, exultantly as Larry Doby leads the 1948 Cleveland Indians to World Series victory. The boy, African-American, had been told that there was no future for him in baseball because of segregation, even though Jackie Robinson now played with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Doby had signed with the Indians. Larry Doby? Doby integrated the American League and was a brilliant hitter and fielder who got lost in the Robinson accolades. Crowe's story captures a slice of baseball life for a family enjoying the old-time radio play-by-play and seeing in Doby's accomplishments a sign of better times to come. Benny's full-page acrylic paintings are cheery and portray a comfortable home setting. There's also a dramatic double-page spread of Doby's Game Four home run. More importantly, Benny reproduces the newspaper photograph of Doby and the Indians' white pitcher, Steve Gromek, joyfully hugging each other cheek to cheek. It's a photo that should stand in importance alongside the one of PeeWee Reese putting his arm around Robinson, as remembered so well in Peter Golenbock's Teammates (1990). A fine story about baseball that makes its point quietly and effectively. (historical note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763650261
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,430,185
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Crowe has written several celebrated books for young people, including Mississippi Trial, 1955, which won the International Reading Association Young Adult Book Award, and Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case. Chris Crowe is a professor of English at Brigham Young University and lives in Provo, Utah.

Mike Benny is an award-winning illustrator whose work has appeared in many prominent publications, including The New Yorker, Time, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone. He has also illustrated several picture books, including Oh, Brother! by Nikki Grimes and The Listeners by Gloria Whelan. Mike Benny lives in Austin, Texas.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    1948 World Series.

    *A great book to pique the interest of young readers about the early history of baseball in the United States of America. *Detailed facial expressions make this a beautiful story. *This is a wonderful book to do lessons on baseball history or just to learn more about the early days of African Americans in baseball. *Good for multiculturalism in sports. **The historical note in the book is very informative.

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