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The Youngest Hero

The Youngest Hero

5.0 5
by Jerry B. Jenkins, Laurie O'Brien (Read by), Jack Sondericker (Read by)

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In this emotional story of parental love, a single mother of a teenage baseball player who exhibits the batting eye of a professional athlete, tries to shield and protect her son from the world of over-zealous scouts, hard-nosed coaches, and money-hungry agents. Guided by his mother's firm and steadfast wisdom and his extraordinary talent, both mother and son make it


In this emotional story of parental love, a single mother of a teenage baseball player who exhibits the batting eye of a professional athlete, tries to shield and protect her son from the world of over-zealous scouts, hard-nosed coaches, and money-hungry agents. Guided by his mother's firm and steadfast wisdom and his extraordinary talent, both mother and son make it to the major leagues. In the end, THE YOUNGEST HERO reveals that when it comes to finding your way in life, a God-fearing mother is more important than God-given talent.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jenkins's goal in high school was to be a professional baseball player, so it's not surprising that the coauthor of the popular Left Behind series and numerous "as told to" baseball autobiographies would pen this light yarn of a young prodigy who makes it to the major leagues. Elgin Woodell comes by his talent honestly: his daddy, Neal, was once a major league prospect. But with Neal in the Alabama State Penitentiary, Elgin's mother, Miriam, is left to raise their 10-year-old son on her own, moving from Hattiesburg, Miss., to Chicago to escape the stigma of her divorce and her husband's bad reputation. Elgin hones his talent on the streets playing fast pitch and trying to fit into local leagues that are correct for his age group but not his talent. Success, however, is just around the corner. Fans of the Left Behind series will recognize Jenkins's trademark touches of humor, as well as his predisposition to be long on dialogue and short on characterization. There's a nice romance between Miriam and Lucas Harkness, the owner of Lucky's Secondhand Shop. Although Elgin's raw talent is believable for this type of tale, his precocious wisdom is unlikely. Like Hometown Legend, much of the book reads like it was made for the screen (and with Jenkins's new entertainment company transforming several of his novels to film, perhaps it was). Baseball fans will gladly stick with the story until the final inning, when 14-year-old Elgin steps up to the plate and achieves his dreams. (Apr. 3) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Hachette Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Abridged, 4 Cassettes, 6 hours
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.74(h) x 1.03(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Youngest Hero

By Jerry B. Jenkins

Time Warner

Copyright © 2002 Jerry B. Jenkins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446529036

Chapter One

Don't be giving me the credit. I'm just the mother. Seems like yesterday it was just Elgin and me on the Trailways from Hattiesburg. That was four years ago. He was ten.

"You're not gonna go barefoot in Chicago," I told him. "And you're not gonna say 'not gonna' up there neither." "'Either,' Momma," he said, turning from the window to face me. "You mean 'either.'"

I pursed my lips. "Thank you, Mr. Know-It-All."

My hair hung heavy from sweat. I shook my head, but I wasn't really upset. I was the one who taught him to read when he was four. I'd watched him devour baseball books and schoolbooks ever since.

Elgin climbed over me and into the aisle where he stood on tippytoes and dug an aluminum bat out of his bag. I saw the driver watching him in the mirror. "There's no room, El," I whispered.

He climbed over me again-this time with the bat-to sit by the window. "I just want to hold it," he said. "Daddy told me-"

"If you're gonna play with that thing, you can go sit by yourself." Elgin let the bat slide between his knees. "You shouldn't have said that, Momma. You know I'd rather sit with you than even feel a bat." It was the highest compliment I could hear from him. I wasn't much bigger than Elgin, but when I hugged him I felt strong. Ownership and responsibility, I guess. "Elgin, just don't-"

"I know," he said, closing his eyes. His arms were moist and cool against mine. "Don't talk about Daddy."

Elgin and I lugged four suitcases from the bus station to a Chicago street littered with trash. A transient hotel was all I could afford. In my purse I carried nine hundred and ten dollars in cash. I had squirreled it away over seven months on a salary that would have made a panhandler blush. I only broke even when I sold our house trailer. That cash was my net worth. By the end of the day, we had settled into a two-bedroom flat on the sixth floor of a building that smelled like the rescue mission in Hattiesburg. Like I told Elgin, at least it was better than living where people knew your business.

I know Momma was worried cause I was sitting there so quiet while she cooked red beans and rice. There was stuff I missed already. Like screen doors. Room to move. Buddies.

Momma said, "If I never see another IRS form as long as I live, it'll be too soon."

"But you were good at it, weren't you?" She snorted and nodded, setting a full plate in front of me. "I don't believe I saw more'n two, three adjusted gross incomes lower'n mine."

She had her wish. She was out of it, away from it, away from Hattiesburg. If only she could explain it. I didn't understand why we had to move. She'd tried to tell me enough times. I learned to quit pestering her.

The next day Momma found a job in the accounting department of a distributing company four and a half miles away. "You could act a little more excited," she told me. "This is food and rent."

But I had my own news. I had discovered a game close enough to baseball to hold me until Momma could find a real league she could afford. "They call it fastpitch," I said. "You stand on one side of the street with a building behind you and the strike zone chalked on the bricks. The pitcher stands in the street with a tennis ball that has the fuzz off it. He tries to strike you out before you get a hit. You make singles, doubles, triples, and homers by how high your hit goes on the front of the building across the street."

"How did you do?" She would ask that. "Haven't hit a foul yet. But I will. A couple of Puerto Ricans can really fire."

Three days later, Elgin came home crying. "A kid stole my bat," he told me. "And we can't get it back cause he's not from around here."

"Can't you use someone else's?" "All they have are broom handles with black tape. And I was just starting to hit with my bat. I'll never hit anything with a broomstick! Anyway-"

"I know, Elgin," I said. "Your daddy gave you that bat." I gathered him in. "A broomstick is about all I can afford right now. Everything costs so much more up here."

"Daddy says I should hit with a wood bat anyway. Get a better feel of the ball."

I sighed. "Money never meant much to your daddy. If he had his way, you'd have had a breakable bat whenever you needed one."

Elgin shook his head and pulled away. "I don't want to hear about it all the time, Momma. I know. Okay?"

It burst from me before I could think. "You would've had a sister by now if it hadn't been for that man." "I hate when you call him 'that man.' He has a name." "Yeah, and he's also got a number." He brightened. "Daddy's playing ball again?" Just like Elgin to assume the best.

"That's not what I meant." I reached into a cupboard and handed him an index card.

Neal Lofert Woodell Lockbox 092349 Alabama State Penitentiary Birmingham, Alabama

The pain in Elgin's eyes pierced me. "What for this time?" he said.

I stalled and sat next to him. "Reckless homicide." "What's that?" "You know. Figure it out." "Why do you have to make everything like school? Homicide is like murder, right?" "Um-hm. Drivin with no papers, drivin while drunk, hit an old man on a bike."

Elgin stared at the card. "Then he's not going to come see me? He said he would." "When did he say that?"

"My birthday, and also the last time I talked to him on the phone. Just after Christmas." "He was already in jail by then." "He didn't tell me." "Probably embarrassed."

Elgin nodded, his eyes wet. "Can I go see him?" I shook my head. "What do you want to see him for when he's only seen you once in more than a year?" Elgin shrugged. "That's why."

On my way to the bus the next morning, I mailed a letter from Elgin to his father. It had taken him most of the evening to write it. I told him I wouldn't read it unless he said I could. "You can."

How are you? I am fine. I didn't know you were in prison. I'll bet you're as sorry as I am. Momma says it could be lots of years. I hope not. I miss you and especially talking and playing baseball. Is there anyone there that can strike you out? I'd like to see them try!

I'm switch-hitting like you taught me. My metal bat got stolen, so I'm going to get a wood one when I get enough money. I lost my batting helmet too. Sorry.

Chicago is different, but we like it. At least I do. I can't go barefoot. I'm not looking forward to school, but Momma is. She doesn't like leaving me all day. I have to call her from the pay phone in the hall at the same time every day. Once I forgot, and once I got my money stolen. I got whipped the first time and haven't forgotten since.

I didn't get whipped for getting my money stolen, but Momma told me how to tell the manager so he could call her. She worries too much, but I'm not scared. I just play fastpitch all day. I'll tell you about it when I see you. How much would it cost for me to come see you?

I love you and miss you, Daddy. I wish you would have told me what happened. It's bad, and I know you're sorry, so don't worry about me not loving you anymore or anything like that.

You still love me, don't you? Mom doesn't love you anymore because of that night, you know. I was mad at you too, but I knew you meant it when you cried. I'm never ever never going to drink beer or anything like that, Dad. It makes you do stuff you don't want to do, and it makes people quit loving you, but not me.

Love, Elgin


Excerpted from The Youngest Hero by Jerry B. Jenkins Copyright © 2002 by Jerry B. Jenkins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Joey Killian More than 1 year ago
A must read for any baseball lover. Only book i have ever read multiple times!
aBeane More than 1 year ago
In "The Youngest Hero," Jerry B. Jenkins writes about a young boy named Elgin Woodell who lives with his single mother as they struggle to survive financially. Elgin is a child prodigy at baseball and his ultimate goal is to play in the Majors. In the novel, Jenkins pushes the theme that adversity can be defeated through commitment, hard work, and perseverance. Although I personally am not a fan of baseball, Elgin's tale was still intriguing because it was engaging to view how determination can alter a person's livelihood. While it was generally a fascinating story, some parts were slightly dry as they were seemingly unnecessary. This book should be read by all sports fans because it essentially tells the perfect Sports Illustrated article. Along with "The Youngest Hero," I also recommend Jenkins' other works such as "Hometown Legend," and his Left Behind series. Due to its engrossing plot and theme, I give the book 5 out of 5 stars.
clickclickBOOM More than 1 year ago
the book that I have read is called the youngest hero. The author is Jerry Jenkins. The book is about a 11-13 year old kid that is a fantastic player of baseball. I chose this book for the simple reason, my grandfather gave it to me. I didn't even try to read it for about 1-2 years, but I had to read a book for class so I read this one. It is a double narrator deal. The two narrators are Elgin and his mother Miriam. Sometimes the more than one narrator can be confusing, but this one is just fine it makes sense. Elgin is a 11-12 year old baseball star. He is so good that when he was 12 he was moved up to the all star high school team and was only rejected because of the fact that the coach thought that he was going to be the best player in the history, but he thought that align knew he was good and was a little bragy. The mother is a lone parent, her husband is in jail. Its an overall book about a very poor mother with a son that has a potential to go any where in life that he wants. It was one of those books that you can't really get bored with. I liked the two main characters, the mother and son. For the reason that you know the most about them. The ending was kind of predicted, I knew what was going to happen, but something else happened that I didn't suspect to happen. Make sense. It's a great book. A lot of books with a double narrator style is really confusing, but this one was just fine. If I could change the double narrator I wouldn't, its perfect. Wouldn't want it any different. This book is about baseball, but it was a lot more to it then a kid with a passion for baseball, I would recommend this book to anyone. Overall I give this book an A+
HHS More than 1 year ago
After reading the "Youngest Hero" I was very pleased with the whole entire book. It talked about how a young boy, who overcomes the abandonment of his father and shortage of money, to make it to the major leagues. Elgin, throughout the book, becomes better and better at baseball as he progresses through his childhood, and by the age of 13, is a baseball phenom. He becomes a great baseball player because of the unconditional love and support from his mom and the hard hours of practice he put forth everyday. Elgin ends up making the Major Leagues as a teenager, and is drafted by the Atlanta Braves where he becomes a hall of fame player.
I am an avid baseball fan who enjoys playing baseball all the time, and this book has given me inspiration to put forth extra practice to become a better baseball player. I enjoyed the statistics of Elgin's entire major league career at the end of the book because I love looking at statistics of baseball players throughout their careers. There is nothing that I would change in the book because I believe Jerry B. Jenkins nailed down the main idea of the book and gave a pleasing conclusion. I would recommend this book to all baseball fans, sports fans, and anyone who enjoys reading book about people who rise above adversity and succeed at their goals.

Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutly terrific. Its about a young baseball player who is too talented fo his age, and becomes a major leager at the age of 14.