Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen

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Overview

For as long as she could remember, Jackie Mitchell's father had told Jackie she could be good at whatever she wanted, as long as she worked at it. Jackie worked at baseball. She worked hard. And before long Jackie could outplay anyone in her neighborhood ? even the boys.
She had one pitch ? a wicked, dropping curve ball. But no seventeen-year-old girl could pitch against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It was unthinkable. Then on April 2, 1931, the New York Yankees stopped in ...

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Overview

For as long as she could remember, Jackie Mitchell's father had told Jackie she could be good at whatever she wanted, as long as she worked at it. Jackie worked at baseball. She worked hard. And before long Jackie could outplay anyone in her neighborhood — even the boys.
She had one pitch — a wicked, dropping curve ball. But no seventeen-year-old girl could pitch against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It was unthinkable. Then on April 2, 1931, the New York Yankees stopped in Tennessee for an exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. And on that day Jackie Mitchell made baseball history.
Marissa Moss tells a true story of determination and heroism, a gem of baseball history sure to inspire ballplayers of all ages. And C. F. Payne's vibrant, glorious illustrations make the golden age of baseball come alive.

In 1931, seventeen-year-old Jackie Mitchell pitches against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game, becoming the first professional female pitcher in baseball history.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Treat your little slugger to this inspiring true story of 17-year-old Jackie Mitchell, who handily disproved the Babe's theory that women were "too delicate" for baseball by striking him out at an exhibition game. Expressive close-ups lend an engaging timelessness to this well-paced tale of a determined young girl. (Ages 6 to 8)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
Delivered with the force of a hard fastball, the true story of athlete Jackie Mitchell makes a strong addition to Moss's (Amelia's Notebook) library of brave girl tales. Payne (Casey at the Bat) sets the stage with photo-real, fish-eye-distorted spreads of Jackie as a child, hurling baseballs long after nightfall and getting tips from Dodgers pitcher Dazzy Vance. Moss relays the details of then-17-year-old Jackie's April 2, 1931, game against the two best hitters of the day-Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig-with the blow-by-blow breathlessness of a sportscaster and the confidence of a seasoned storyteller: "Jackie held that ball like it was part of her arm, and when she threw it, she knew exactly where it would go." Payne's pictures mirror the text's immediacy. Close-ups show Ruth's face as he awaits Jackie's first pitch, then later his expression of dismay and outrage as the umpire calls "Strrrrike three!" Jackie disposes of Gehrig even more expeditiously, and the story ends as she basks in the cheers of fans who had jeered her only moments before. The wind seeps out of this jubilant moment when readers old enough to understand the end note discover that Jackie was immediately removed from her team and banned from baseball (the commissioner claimed his decision was for her own protection, as baseball was "too strenuous" for women, according to an author's note). Yet the drama of her two memorable strike-outs has a mythic dimension, and girls with sporting aspirations will be thrilled by Jackie's legacy. Ages 5-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Moss takes us back to 1931 for a little-known piece of baseball history. The New York Yankees, with legendary players like Babe Ruth, are playing an exhibition game with the Chattanooga Lookouts, whose pitcher is, shocking for that time, a seventeen-year-old girl named Jackie Mitchell. Despite the fact that girls weren't supposed to be able to play baseball, Jackie had always dreamed of playing in the World Series. She grew up practicing constantly. In the game, she triumphantly strikes out both the mighty Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The author's note, following Jackie's career even after the baseball commissioner voided her contract to protect her because baseball was "too strenuous" for a woman, is frustratingly anti-climactic after the thrill of her success. Payne's full-page and double page mixed-media illustrations look like grainy color photographs as they add zip to the scenes. Even more compelling are the perspectives he uses; right behind Jackie as she pitches at Babe Ruth; looking down from the stands as Gehrig strikes out; straight into the eyes of Ruth, and, on the jacket/cover, Jackie herself. These pictures drive home the emotional content that makes us want to stand up and cheer. 2004, A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 5 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Library Journal
K-Gr 3-When Jackie Mitchell was a pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, she made baseball history on April 2, 1931, by striking out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Moss begins this brief chronicle of the young woman's moment in the sun by setting the scene at the stadium that day, quoting the skepticism expressed by sports reporters. She then moves back to Mitchell's childhood and describes her early interest in the game and the support and encouragement offered by her father. When the scene returns to the big day, the author indulges in some minor fictionalizing as she imagines the teen's thoughts and feelings when she faced the baseball giants. The narrative captures the tension and excitement, and has the air of an experience remembered. Payne's mixed-media illustrations with their judicious use of sepia increase the nostalgic feel. Pair this title with Shana Corey's Players in Pigtails (Scholastic, 2003) or Doreen Rappaport and Lyndall Callan's Dirt on Their Skirts (Dial, 2000) for a close look at a previously neglected piece of history.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Unlike most girls, Jackie Mitchell was encouraged to play baseball. Under the tutelage of her father and major-league pitcher Dazzy Vance and with endless practice and hard work, she became a formidable pitcher. In a 1931 exhibition game in Tennessee, she struck out superstars Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Although Moss provides a pitch-by-pitch description of the strikeouts, she leaves a lot of holes in the overall story. In an author's note, she does give some additional information about Jackie's later career, including an interesting bit about being banned from professional baseball, because "it is too strenuous for women." It's a pity that none of this is included in the body of the work-though treated as a vignette, it's fascinating. Payne's illustrations are delightful, depicting both Ruth and Gehrig accurately and adding a sense of fun to the proceedings, while maintaining the drama. Intriguing, but inadequate. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689863295
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 1/27/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 491,298
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 12.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Marissa Moss is the bestselling creator of the perennially popular Amelia series as well as the Daphne’s Daily Disasters series. She lives in Berkeley, California. Visit her at MarissaMoss.com and at AmeliaBooks.com.

C.F. Payne has illustrated more than a dozen picture books, including the Texas Bluebonnet winner Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy and Turkey Bowl, both written by Phil Bildner. He also illustrated the New York Times bestsellers The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Micawber, both by John Lithgow. He teaches at the Columbus College of Design, where he is the chair of the Illustration Department. C.F. Payne lives with his wife and children in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit him at CFPayne.com.

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