“One bends down and grabs it off the ground. The other reaches up and pulls it out of the sky.” So begins the game of baseball, and “Baseball For Everyone, Stories From the Great Game.” The anecdotes are not just about baseball players and games, but also about the folk artists who were inspired by them—who carved, painted and sewed figures from the American pastime. One baseball hero made more money than the President of the United States. Another was repeatedly spiked. There are female players, Little Leaguers, and baseball heroes from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Japan. “King” Kelly was famous for his hurricane dives, and Fred Merkle for his bonehead mistake.
The stories are illustrated by homemade and decorated baseballs, life-size carnival figures, weathervanes and paintings of famous stadiums. A school teacher created a quilt in homage to Jackie Robinson and a convict sewed a portrait of Mickey Mantle out of the threads from his socks and underwear. The artists and athletes in “Baseball For Everyone” share a passion for a game that has thrilled people of different ages and backgrounds for over 150 years. The author hopes that young artists will be encouraged to play the game and young fans will want to create baseball art of their own. (“Baseball For Everyone, Stories From the Great Game” was published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in association with the American Folk Art Museum.)
Best Children’s Books of 2003, Publishers Weekly
Parents Choice Award for Nonfiction.
“Who would have thought reading a book could be as much fun as playing the game?” ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
“This elegant volume may well be irresistible to fans of America’s pastime. The lively, informative text traces the history of the sport from its beginnings….The result is as inspiring as it is entertaining. This attractive volume, enticingly packaged with a plethora of photographs, memorabilia and often astonishing folk art, will certainly whet appetites. The book’s crisp design also hits a home run, making the most of a visual bounty that helps to underscore the sport’s tremendous influence on the national psyche.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“This well written, child-friendly history addresses the game of baseball as it relates to the culture of the nation…Published to coincide with an exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum in NYC, the work is copiously illustrated with photographs of artifacts from the exhibition. There are the requisite paintings, drawings, and photographs, but there are also advertising signs and figures, sculptures, illustrated scorecards, games, weather vanes, quilts and needlework, and other objects that are entirely unique…. A great addition to the literature of the great American game.” KIRKUS REVIEW
The Worst Team Wins
The year 1962 was a tough one for the Mets. The New York Metropolitans were a brand-new club playing in an outdated stadium, the Polo Grounds, with the oldest manager in baseball, Casey Stengel, age seventy-two. The team was made up of eager rookies and old veterans. Fans came to games and watched in disbelief as two runners ended up on the same base and two outfielders collided with each other and dropped the ball. “I been in this game a hundred years,” Casey Stengel said, “but I see new ways to lose I never knew existed before.” When the catcher, “Choo Choo” Coleman, tried to catch curve balls, he looked “like a man fighting bees.” Stengel asked, “Can’t anybody play this game?”
The odd thing about the Mets was that the worse they played, the more the fans loved them. “Let’s go, Mets!” they shouted. Huge crowds showed up at the Polo Grounds and blew their horns for players like “Marvelous Marv” Throneberry, the first baseman who often dropped balls and missed the base when he rounded second. One sign in the crowd said, “We don’t want to set the world on fire—we just want to finish ninth. At the end of the first season, the team had lost 120 games (and won 40), the worst record in the twentieth century.
In 1968, the Mets did finish ninth, out of ten teams, as accomplishment for “one of the worst teams in baseball.” They had a new stadium and a new manager, but they kept losing—seven of the first ten games in 1969. Then something happened, as it often does in baseball. Sportswriters analyze great plays and great players, but no one can explain what makes a team come alive and win. In September, the Amazin’ Mets took the Eastern Division title by eight games. In October, they won the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Suddenly, they were the “Miracle Mets”! Many fans felt that the Mets’ win was as surprising as the other major event that summer: a man walking on the moon.
Copyright © 2021 Janet Wyman Coleman - All Rights Reserved.