Something to Prove: Rookie Joe Dimaggio vs. the Great Satchel Paige

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Some baseball stories seem almost born to become books. Author Robert Skead found one when he uncovered an account of the first encounter between future Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio and Satchel Paige. In 1936, the "Yankee Clipper" outfield was just a relatively unknown rookie and pitcher Paige was just a vagabonding barnstormer, doomed to eke out a meager living on the road because the major leagues had no place for black players. Even without the gripping racial drama, Something to Prove holds immense emotional force. Paige was, after all, "the best and fastest pitcher" the Yankee Clipper said he had ever faced and Satchel, who was at the top of his game, was challenging the skills of a batter who would go on to hit safely in a record 56 consecutive games. Like its subjects, this children's picture book displays its own synergy: Skead's impressive storytelling skills harmonize perfectly with Floyd Cooper's artfully nostalgic drawings. (My featured author of the month is also a fellow bookseller: Rob Skead works in Corporate Communications.) [

Publishers Weekly
Paige, a black baseball player who was a renowned pitcher well before the days of Jackie Robinson, wasn’t permitted to play in the major leagues. But his reputation was such that when the Yankees wanted to test the mettle of a rookie named Joe DiMaggio, they arranged for him to play against the Satchel Paige All-Stars. Cooper’s grainy illustrations look as though they are filtered through sunlight, striking a nostalgic chord, while Skead’s play-by-play (“This was DiMaggio’s last chance to pass the test. His heart raced as he looked for Satchel’s release point and the ball coming like a bullet on fire”) provides a riveting, baseball story about two players seeking recognition of their worth. Ages 7–11. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Joe DiMaggio had something to prove. It was 1936, and the New York Yankees wanted to test the young, skinny prospect to see whether he would be an asset in the major leagues. They wanted to see what he could do against the best pitcher around, but they had to go to the Negro Leagues to find him: Satchel Paige. At that time, Paige could not play in the major leagues because he was black. An exhibition game was organized between Paige's team of amateurs and DiMaggio and the Yankees. Old Satch gave it everything he had, and he held DiMaggio hitless for most of the close game. DiMaggio would later say that Paige was the toughest pitcher he ever faced. This book assumes its readership has a deeper background of baseball history than should be expected the average picture book audience. Not even an avid baseball fan will necessarily know what "barnstorming" is, and only a vague understanding can be gleaned from context clues in this text. The story of this one day in baseball history is told clearly an in an interesting way, highlighting the racial injustice of the event. The illustrations are bright, yet sepia-tinted with soft lines, giving the tale a historical feel, while still conveying the excitement and emotion of the game. Readers with a strong baseball background will enjoy this book on their own, but it would work best as a read-aloud in middle grade classrooms. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
Kirkus Reviews
A little-known episode in the careers of two baseball giants highlights the racial divide in the game. In 1936, pitcher Satchel Paige was already a veteran hero in Negro League baseball, while Joe DiMaggio was a hot, young prospect under consideration by the New York Yankees. Yankee management's plan was to have DiMaggio bat against Paige in a game between white and black barnstorming teams as a test of his ability to hit the best of the best. DiMaggio managed only an infield hit off Paige, but it was enough to prove himself to the Yankees. Skead details the events of the game with an air of excitement and expectancy, keying in on both men's strategies and thoughts; Joe tells himself to keep his eye on the ball, and Satchel decides to throw his "wobbly ball" or his "whipsey dipsey do." Underlying the narrative is sadness that DiMaggio would go on to an enormous career with the Yankees, while Satchel Paige, who had proven himself one of the greatest pitchers of all time, would not play for a major league team until he was over 40 years old. Cooper's soft-edged brown, amber and green illustrations lovingly depict the action and emotions called forth in the text. A loving tribute to Satchel Paige, who never looked back in anger. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761366195
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 29
  • Sales rank: 634,899
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Skead

Robert Skead is the author of the children's books Hitting Glory: A Baseball Bat Adventure; Safe at Home: A Baseball Card Mystery, Elves Can't Dunk, Elves Can't Tackle and Elves Can't Kick. He is also the director, internal communications, for Barnes & Noble, Inc. When he is not at work or crafting stories, Robert can often be found at schools speaking with children and adults about creative writing. He lives with his wife and children in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Floyd Cooper is the award-winning author of The Blacker the Berry, Brown Honey In Broomwheat Tea, and I Have Heard Of A Land. He has illustrated numerous books, including Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Ramsey for Carolrhoda Picture Books. Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he now lives in Easton, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two sons.

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