Peanuts and crackerjacks
Pete O’Brien was my favorite player. He played first base for the M’s, back when the Mariners had yet to win a season. If you are saying “Pete O’Who?” that’s okay. He was mostly my favorite player because he wore glasses and so did I. And I’m still pretty sure that’s a good reason.
There is nothing I like more than playing or watching baseball on a sunny day. I remember playing ball with my dad in our yard and then cheering with him at the stadium. I remember thinking the Mariners were going to win (every time) even during the years when their bullpen lost it in the ninth (every time — except when they lost it in the eighth). I remember doing all of my homework with the games on the radio. (Dave Neihaus, you are responsible for any bad grades.) I remember getting into an argument about Dave Valle (catcher) with my Middle School Crush (now husband) that ended in him sitting (temporarily) on the other side of the movie theater. I remember wearing my M’s hat with duct tape over the “S” during the strike in 8th grade. I remember gleefully watching the postseason games with the Yankees in 1995 with a Yankee fan and personal foe. I remember Edgar’s double.
As I’ve “grown up” (for lack of a better term), baseball still has me. At a recent Tigers game, I could feel my heart race just walking into the stadium, seeing the light reflect on the grass. I’ve lost a little of my loyalty to the major leagues, but paying attention to money and drugs will do that to you. And while you will never see me root for the Yankees, I’ve transitioned to a Tigers fan with little ado.
Which is why I was excited to see Betsy’s Day at the Game come across my desk. I love that the book is about a girl going to the game, as sports books often target boys. I love that it focuses on keeping memories along with the scores. And I love the way it integrates a story with a lesson on how to keep score, which is complicated business.
I remember the first time I learned how to read a box score and to check players stats in the paper. Keeping score is a great way to watch a ballgame. It’s a great way to stay focused on the action. And it’s great for kids who are more numbers-oriented than sports-oriented: it might open up a world they never knew was there.
Title: Betsy’s Day at the Game
Author: Greg Bancroft
Illustrator: Katherine Blackmore
Genre: Early Reader, Sports
Betsy’s Day at the Game is the size of a picture book, but really it’s an early reader, meant more for the adult to read to the child. It’s text-heavy given the nature of teaching, but explains the game and score keeping well. This is a book that brings its own family activity: simply read, head to the ballpark and start keeping score! Don’t forget to include the family memories like Betsy does, and if you aren’t heading to a ballgame anytime soon, you could start your own memory book instead.
Wendy Lawrence is a Seattle native who is now living with her husband and two young sons in Nashville, Tenn. A longtime educator and former middle school head at Eastside Prep in Kirkland, she now blogs about parenting and books at The Family That Reads Together.