Goodbye, Mr. Spalding

Goodbye, Mr. Spalding

by Jennifer Robin Barr


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Set in Philadelphia during the Great Depression, this middle-grade historical novel tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy and his best friend as they attempt to stop a wall from being built at Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics, that would block the view of the baseball field from their rooftops.

In 1930s Philadelphia, twelve-year-old Jimmy Frank and his best friend Lola live across the street from Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team. Their families and others on the street make extra money by selling tickets to bleachers on their flat rooftops, which have a perfect view of the field. However, falling ticket sales at the park prompt the manager and park owner to decide to build a wall that will block the view. Jimmy and Lola come up with a variety of ways to prevent the wall from being built, knowing that not only will they miss the view, but their families will be impacted from the loss of income. As Jimmy becomes more and more desperate to save their view, his dubious plans create a rift between him and Lola, and he must work to repair their friendship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684371785
Publisher: Astra Publishing House
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 640,761
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Robin Barr is the author of two how-to books for adults. Goodbye, Mr. Spalding is her debut middle-grade novel. She is drawn to writing about little-known nuggets of history. She lives in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt

Jimmie Foxx is definitely dead. I can tell by the way his glassy eyes are staring at me through the fishbowl. Finally. Who knew it would take three years for one fish to die? That means three years since the Philadelphia Athletics have played in a World Series. It also means Rule #13: Bury all dead family pets in Shibe Park for luck.
I turn onto my back and stare at the hairline crack across the bedroom ceiling. I should be more upset, and I squeeze my eyes shut trying to find an ounce of sadness. Instead, I feel a charge of excitement as my lips curl into a smile. Every time I bury a pet fish at Shibe Park, the A’s go to the World Series.
I sneak out of bed, tiptoe to my third-floor window, and gaze out at the vast baseball stadium across the street. Shibe Park looks deserted, except for a glaring spotlight under the left-field stands. I wonder if some worker left it on by accident. No time to worry about that now.
I rub my face awake, try to smooth down the pile of shaggy brown hair on my head and look for my knickers, finding them rolled up in a ball in the corner of the room. I’ll need Lola’s help. We have to bury Jimmie Foxx behind first base, before the sun comes up.
The Sheridans live in the row house next door, so Lola’s bedroom window is only a few feet from mine. I tug on our Bingle—the name we gave the cord that runs from her window to mine—and listen for the faint ding- a-ling from the bell attached to the other end. Rule #16: Always meet on the roof when you hear the Bingle.
I gently wrap Jimmie Foxx in a handkerchief, grab my bag, and climb through the hallway skylight and onto the flat roof, our designated meeting place. I look to my left and my right, scanning the rows of rooftops for signs of anyone who might see us at this late hour, especially the Polinski brothers. They are always causing trouble in the middle of the night.
Each roof has something unique that makes it stand out, like Ma’s tomato plants or her famous flowerpots, but they all have one thing in common: a set of rooftop bleachers to watch major league baseball games.
Tonight, all the bleachers are empty.
Our view of the ball field is the best on the block, right in the middle of the street. We can see easily over the short right-field wall and take in each game like we paid for the best seat in the house. Tomorrow, the street, our roof, and this ballpark will be filled with fans watching our Philadelphia Athletics play the Boston Red Sox.
I love game days. I love the roar of the crowd, the bell of the Good Humor truck, and the smells of Red Hots’ sausages, steaming peanuts, and lit cigars. But at times like this, when Shibe Park is quiet and seems like it’s all mine, I think I like it even more.
“I’m sorry you’re dead, Jimmie,” I whisper to the fish, “but we can’t lose any more games. When the A’s start winning again and folks pay to sit on our roof to watch, I’ll think of you.”

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