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3.3 3
by Matt Tavares

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Matt Tavares brings to life a winning tale of the shortest home run in history with the help of his luminous artwork and an infectious love of the game.

Somehow, Andy's bat had hit the ball. Everybody heard it . . . but nobody saw where it went.

Andy Oyler is the shortest player on his baseball team, the Minneapolis Millers, not to mention the


Matt Tavares brings to life a winning tale of the shortest home run in history with the help of his luminous artwork and an infectious love of the game.

Somehow, Andy's bat had hit the ball. Everybody heard it . . . but nobody saw where it went.

Andy Oyler is the shortest player on his baseball team, the Minneapolis Millers, not to mention the whole league. And no matter how hard he tries, he just can't seem to get a hit. But one fateful spring day in 1903, a sudden change in the weather leads to a change in Andy Oyler’s luck—and as Andy soon discovers, even the shortest player can become the game's biggest hero! Matt Tavares brings one of baseball's legendary stories to life and champions the underdog in all of us. Helping readers keep score is a bibliography and final note from the author about this uplifting all-American tale.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tavares (Zachary's Ball; Oliver's Game) takes another triumphant trip to the baseball field in this stirring story of an unlikely hero set in 1903. The tale opens as Little Andy Oyler, the shortest player on the Minneapolis Millers team-in fact in the whole league-steps up to the plate; heavy rain falls, and Oyler tries to ignore the heckling St. Paul Saints fans. The Millers, trailing by three runs, have loaded the bases and are down to their last out. Three spreads show a kind of time-lapse: a wide-angle view of the field, the wet ball slipping as it leaves the pitcher's hand, then the ball headed right for Oyler's head, yet somehow his bat makes contact. The ball seemingly disappears as Oyler heads for first base. After he makes his way home, the ball is recovered from the mud ("only a few feet in front of home plate") and declared a "fair ball" by the ump. Tavares's subtly hued, stylized watercolors effectively evoke the era as well as the tale's highly charged action and emotion. With his expert use of close-up and full-diamond views, he creates a visual pacing that adds to the suspense. A concluding note offers the caveat that documentation on the "shortest home run in baseball history" is, well muddy, and that this may well be a baseball tall tale. Whether fact or fiction, it is a refreshing and rousing story, with illustrations that will sweep up young spectators. Ages 6-10. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
With two outs in the ninth inning, bases loaded, and down by three runs to the St. Paul Saints, the smallest man on the Minneapolis Millers baseball team, Andy Oyler, was up to bat. Puddles appeared on the field as the rain came down in torrents, but the umpire said play should continue. He was hoping for a quick out. Instead, Andy hit the ball but no one saw where it went. Andy took off for first base. When the ball was not located, the players continued to score. The second baseman accidentally tripped on the baseball when he chased Andy all the way to home plate. Andy had become a hero. Tavares has recreated this event, about the achievements of the small underdog, from the annals of baseball lore. The action and excitement are captured in the sepia-toned pages. There are many details in these illustrations: the look of the ballpark, the uniforms, what the fans would have been wearing, and even the corners of the pages which look water-damaged. Altogether they take the reader back to the early years of the twentieth century and a rain-soaked baseball game at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis. Tavares and Andy Oyler each have a homerun here! 2005, Candlewick Press, Ages 5 to 8.
—Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A lighthearted picture-book romp based on baseball's shortest home run. In 1903, Andy Oyler hit the only home run of his entire career, but it's the subject of a much-loved baseball legend. Tavares casts his hero as the classic underdog: Oyler's the shortest player in the league, and he's trying to overcome a batting slump and the heckling of fans. As he steps to the plate on a cold, drizzly day, he represents the Minneapolis Millers' last hope. The drizzle becomes a downpour, but the umpire, believing that the batter stands a good chance of making the final out, lets play continue. Oyler somehow connects with the ball, which then gets lost in the wet, muddy infield. Tavares hilariously details the ensuing chaotic play as fielders scramble to find it and the batter makes his way around the bases. The artist evokes a nostalgic mood using pencil and watercolors in subdued shades of gray, brown, and navy blue. Similar in spirit to Marilyn Sachs's classic baseball tall tales, Matt's Mitt (1975; o.p.) and Fleet-Footed Florence (1981, both Doubleday), this story is sure to delight fans young and old.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Did Babe Ruth really point to the bleachers and then proceed to hit a home run to that spot? This question has been argued ad infinitum since 1932. Andy Oyler's exploits of 1903 are also part of baseball lore, if somewhat more obscure. Oyler is the shortest player in the league and he can't buy a hit. He comes to bat in the ninth inning with two out and the bases loaded. Suddenly there's downpour, turning the field to a muddy mess. Somehow, he hits the ball. As the opposing team scrambles through the rain and mud, the three runners score and so does Andy. Thus, Andy Oyler has hit the shortest grand-slam home run ever. Tavares employs short, simple sentences spiced with players' confused shouts. Pencil illustrations washed with pale watercolors are filled with humorous details and delightfully expressive faces. Did it really happen? It doesn't matter. Play Ball! (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Tavares baseball books Series
Product dimensions:
10.17(w) x 11.63(h) x 0.49(d)
AD680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Matt Tavares is the illustrator of 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and the author-illustrator of ZACHARY'S BALL and OLIVER'S GAME. He says of MUDBALL, "We have all found ourselves in situations where we feel helpless, small, and ready to quit—but as Little Andy Oyler's story demonstrates, good fortune may rain down on us when we least expect it."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Mudball 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fun story with amazing illustrations. My 4 year old has to hear the story of Little Andy Oyler every night before he goes to bed. Short, entertaining, and brilliant. A classic that will be on our book shelf forever.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The shortest homerun ever is hit into a huge mud puddle in front of home plate in a driving rainstorm. Unlikely, yes. What about a rain delay? Good fun, anyway, with delightful illustrations.