Heart of a Champion

Heart of a Champion

by Carl Deuker


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Heart of a Champion by Carl Deuker

Jimmy Winter is a born star on the baseball field, and Seth Barnam can only dream of being as talented. Still, the two baseball fanatics have the kind of friendship that should last forever. But when Seth experiences an unthinkable loss, he's forced to find his own personal strength—on and off the field.

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Best Book for Reluctant Readers
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Book of the Year

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316067263
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 04/01/2007
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 77,972
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Carl Deuker is a teacher in the Northshore School District outside of Seattle. He has won numerous awards for his novels.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My father's game was golf. He was great at it, too. There is a box full of his trophies in our attic. If he hadn't died, golf would have been my game too. I would never have played baseball, would never have been best friends with Jimmy Winter. I'd have heard about what happened to him while I was hitting a bucket of balls at Palo Alto Muni to prepare for the high school tournament.

But my father did die, and I've spent the last five years living and breathing baseball. Most of the time Jimmy Winter has been by my side. No, that's not right. The right way to say it is I've been by his side.

I was born in San Francisco, but I've lived all my life in Redwood City, a boring suburb south of the city. My father was a traveling salesman for IBM. He died ten years ago, when I was seven. He was in a hotel in Los Angeles when he had something like a stroke. He called the lobby for help, but his speech was slurred. The switchboard operator figured he was drunk and ignored him. In the morning a maid found him dead. It's a horrible way to die-alone in a hotel room begging for help, with people thinking you're just some boozer.

People say I look like my father, and I guess I do a little. From old photos I can tell he was tall and thin and had brown hair, like me. But his face was broad and fleshy, and mine is all angles and bones.

My mother says that every once in a while I'll do something small -- scratch my head or plop down on a chair-and it will be exactly the way he used to do it. I always feel strange when she tells me stuff like that. His blood is in my veins, but I never got to know him.

The day of my father's funeral ournext-door neighbor, Mr. Mongolin, crouched to my level and looked me in the eye. "You're the man of the house now, Seth. You have to take care of your mother."

I remember my throat going fight, and a panicky feeling coming over me. "Yes, sir, I will," I stammered, and I meant it, even though I didn't have a clue how.

My mother must have overheard. She flashed Mongolin a dirty look, grabbed me by the arm, and pulled me to a quiet corner. "Seth Barham, you're a little boy," she said. "You don't have to take care of anyone."

My mom waited a year before suing the hotel. She told me she waited because it didn't seem right to act like money could replace my father. She said she finally sued because she felt she had to make the people who were responsible feel responsible.

The hotel was owned by some huge corporation. They had a team of lawyers and buckets of money. My mother had one lawyer and no money.

It took four years before the case made it to court. We flew down to L.A. for the trial. One day I was in my sixthgrade classroom at St. Pius diagramming sentences; the next I was on a jet plane with my mother and grandmother.

I thought it would be exciting, but that courtroom was not fun. On a table in front of the jury. was a model of a human head. The doctors used it to explain how my father died. I'm not stupid. I knew it wasn't my father's head. But that model looked so real it scared me. And the way the doctors picked sections out, turned them over, pointed to this vein and that artery -- I still have nightmares about it.

On the third day of testimony something went wrong and the judge declared a mistrial. The the corporation offered to settle. We flew back to San Francisco and took a taxi

home. My mother wanted to talk with my grandmother, so I was sent outside.

I remember feeling disappointed as I closed the front door. I was back in Redwood City, and it was like nothing had changed. Whenever I'd asked my mother questions about my father, she'd described him as a saint, a perfect husband and father. I don't blame her-what else could she do? But I didn't have a strong sense of who he was. I'd hoped to learn from the trial what he was really like, good and bad. But to the doctors and the lawyers, my father was nothing but bones and blood and tissue. I hadn't learned anything.

I stood on the front lawn that day wondering what to do, where to go. Guys from St. Pius lived in the neighborhood. I wasn't best friends with any of diem, but if I showed up at Briarfield Park I could usually hook up with somebody.

But that day I didn't much feel like seeing guys from the neighborhood. I didn't want to talk about where I'd been. I didn't want to think about that model on the table. -So I walked a half-mile to Henry Ford School. I didn't know anybody who went to Henry Ford.

Once I reached the playground I climbed onto a swing, pushed off, and started pumping. When I was soaring, I'd jump out into the sand as far as I could. The whole time I was pretending I was a fighter pilot, one of the Blue Angels, -parachuting from a smoking jet. It's a dumb thing for a sixthgrader to do, but that's what I did.

I'd been there about half an hour when I heard a man's voice boom across the playground. "Use your new glove, Jimmy. You need to break it in before the season starts."

"But the new one hurts my hand."

"I said to use the new one."

That was the first time I saw Jimmy.

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Heart of a Champion 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Seth Barnam's father was a golfer, and it probably would have been Seth's game, too, but his dad died when Seth was only seven. Coming to terms with his father's death was difficult for Seth, but then he met Jimmy Winter. Jimmy has lots of baseball talent, and a father that demands perfection from him. The boys become fast friends, and both sign up for Little League, even though Seth feels inadequate compared to his new friend.

Their time together is spent practicing baseball, with Jimmy's father usually there to coach them and urge them to improve. Jimmy's intensity and self-assurance on the playing field begins to rub off onto Seth, too. He improves as a student and as a baseball player, and he dreams of being as good as Jimmy.

Then Jimmy's home life begins to unravel; his father is drinking too much and then his parents divorce. Seth is at a loss when Jimmy is caught drinking and suspended from the team. Jimmy just can't seem to get his life back on track, and his choices lead to an unexpected result.

This is an exciting novel, loaded with baseball action. It will have an intense appeal to anyone interested in that sport, but the main focus is on the friendship that develops between Seth and Jimmy, and of coping with the consequences of foolish choices, and the grief of dealing with incomprehensible loss. It's easy to read with well-developed, likable characters, a gripping plot, and plenty of action. I highly recommend this book, especially for boys, but girls will also enjoy this story of a forever kind of friendship.

Notes: An ALA Best Book for Young Adults An ALA Best Book for Reluctant Readers A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Book of the Year.
Boqwesha More than 1 year ago
Heart of a Champion by Carl Deuker is about a 15 year old boy named Seth. Seth is a nice, caring, and honest kid. He enjoys playing baseball and hanging with his friend Jimmy. In this book Carl Deuker really captures the way decisions can affect your life and everybody else's lives around you. This book takes place in Redwood City, California. One day Seth decides to go to the nearby baseball fields and ends up meeting a id named Jimmy. They become best friends, and after that, the book takes off. Seth takes up baseball, and practices and puts all his time and effort into baseball. Seth, in his first season of playing, faces the disappointment of not making the Little League majors and is not on his friend Jimmy's team. The next year, Seth has the drive to make the majors, and he does, and then Jimmy moves away, so they are separated again. Then when high school roles around, Jimmy has moved back and Seth makes JV and Jimmy makes Varsity, and then Seth starts to slack and is moving farther and farther away from a varsity spot. Then all of a sudden, after a talk with his coach, he puts more and more effort into baseball and the next season he makes the varsity role. At this time Seth and Jimmy have met a kid named Todd and they have been drinking. Their high school team is going for a championship. Then an unthinkable thing happens and the team is faced with tough times and have to make some difficult decisions. I thought this book was great for kids who love to read sports stories. This book was great because it used a lot of great baseball jargon. I loved the theme that hard work can and will pay off in the long run, how if you're not the best, just work at it, and you will get your chance. The one thing I didn't like was the ending. It was a little confusing, and I thought it should of had a little more description. Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes sports.
boseph429 More than 1 year ago
I like how Carl Dueker made this have a good meaning to it. Overall it's pretty good. The ending is really sad but it had to be that way. Carl Dueker probably wrote this book to have a good meaning and if it means a sad ending well then it'll have a sad ending. This book ws really good and I recommend it to many people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was truly amazing, I cried in the end when Jimmy died but it took me less than 4 hours to finish this book, it was a great story, and it shows how someones life can be messed up if they get addicted to achocol, this is my favorite book, and I realized that you don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is and always will be the best book on earth
Anonymous 3 months ago
Not that bad of a book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the book but to me some things were just all over the place and some things that l think should have been resolved weren't. -for instance, the drinking. I also probably would have liked it more if l understood more of the "baseball talk". So yeah, you will still like it if you dont play baseball but chances are, you wont understand the parts describing games. All in all though, it was pretty good.
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Carl Deuker makes one of the main characters die in all of his books that i have read. High heat, and heart of a champion. His books are still amazing though.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good book. Its so relatable to any human whos ever fallen in love with a sport and who have met a close friend through it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shows that hardwork and dedication can really bring you far in life and sports
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On the day Seth Barham met Jimmy Winter, his life changed. Seth had been an, confused pre-teen who had never come to terms with his father's death when he was seven. He meets Jimmy in a park as Jimmy's strict father is putting his son through intense baseball drills. As their friendship develops Jimmy's self-assurance on the playing field spills over into Seth's life, helping him to improve as a student and a baseball player. However, Jimmy's home life begins to come apart when his parents' divorce. Also, he is suspended from the team when he starts to drinking problem. Seth withstands peer pressure to drink, and, with his mother's support, begins to accept his father's death. However, his biggest battle comes when he must cope with Jimmy's death in a car accident!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thomas George More than 1 year ago
sad but a great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago