Monday, March 7, 2011

Good Sports: Baseball Heroes

Stout, Glenn. 2011. Good Sports: Baseball Heroes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This book is not what I thought it would be!  When I saw it's small size and paperback format, I didn't give it much of a glance - instead, putting on the cart to be shelved.  Later, when searching for books on female athletes to display for Women's History Month, this book popped up in the catalog.  Huh?  I gave it a second look, and I'm glad I did.

Baseball Heroes contains the stories of four ball players who overcame enormous odds to rise to the top of the game they loved - Jackie Robinson, the first African American player in the major leagues, Hank Greenberg - who paved the way for Jewish ball players, Fernando Valenzuela - Mexico's first major league superstar, and Ila Borders.  Ila Borders?

No, I had never heard of Ila either, but her story is no less impressive than the rest. Born in 1975 to a baseball-loving family, Ila was as talented a baseball player as any of the boys her age.  Despite catcalls and complaints from parents and some coaches, she played Little League with the boys, pitching her way through elementary and junior high school.  When she enrolled in high school, however, the law said that she had to play on the school's girls' softball team.  But that didn't stop Ila.  With the support of her family, she enrolled in a private school where she earned a spot on the varsity team,
and when players from the opposition tried to show her up by blowing her kisses from the batter's box or acting disrespectful in other ways, Ila knew what to do. "I just brush them back," she later told a reporter, meaning she threw the ball close to them.  "It's my favorite pitch."
(I love this girl already!)  But high school was not the end of Ila's career.  She went on to pitch in college, and rebuffed by the major league teams, Ila Borders found a home playing professional baseball for an independent league, pitching for the Duluth-Superior Dukes, before retiring to finish college in 2000.
"You never know how far you're going to go," she said.  You just work your tail off and see what happens."
A truly inspirational chapter - perfect to share for Women's History Month.

Baseball Heroes is the first in a planned series, Good SportsGood Sports is a good idea. I wish Mr. Stout good luck and better copy editing with the rest of the series.  The cover contains two errors that will be corrected in future editions.  For the record, Glenn Stout's correct web address is  Baseball Heroes is a good book that deserved a better kickoff.
A parent and teacher guide for baseball heroes is available from the author.

Look for a great post later this month from Audrey Vernick, author of She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story on Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month!

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Picture Book of the Day,


  1. Thanks for you kind words, and the copy edit errors (which made me cringe, as I had never seen the copy before publication) will be corrected in future editions. The second title in the series "Yes She Can! Women's Sports Pioneers" is out at the end of the month.

  2. Still in time for Women's History Month - perfect! I'll be looking for it. Best wishes, Lisa

  3. I have a niece who is a sports nut as we say in the family, participates even as a 30+ year old in many sports still when not tending her patients - high risk pregnancies as a nurse practioner....I am getting this for her as she loves to have books like this to share with younger women whom she mentors. Thank you!


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