“Laugh-out-loud fun…A winner in every way.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Funny and good-hearted.” —Publishers Weekly
A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.
Nick wants to change his life. For twelve years, he’s done what his hard-working, immigrant parents want him to do. Now he’s looking for his own American dream and he thinks he’s found it. The local baseball team is having a batboy contest, and Nick wants to win.
But the contest is on a Saturday—the day Nick has to work in his father’s shop. There’s one other tiny—well, not so tiny—problem. A 2,000-pound rhinoceros named Tank. Nick and his friends play ball in the city zoo—and Tank lives just beyond the right field fence. Nick’s experience getting the ball out of Tank’s pen has left him frozen with fear whenever a fly ball comes his way. How’s a lousy fielder going to win the contest?
Nick practices every day with his best friend, Ace, and a new girl who has an impressive throwing arm! But that’s not enough—to get to the contest, Nick has to lie to his parents and blackmail his uncle. All while dodging the school bully, who’s determined to win even by playing dirty. Nick will need to keep his eye on the ball in this fast, funny story about a game that can throw you some curveballs—just like life!
It's 1948, and 12-year-old Nick is chafing under his Greek immigrant parents' rule that he work at his father's shop on Saturdays. Instead, Nick wants to play baseball with his friends, even though their field butts up against the town zoo and fly balls can end up in Tank the rhino's pen, requiring the boys to hop the fence and outrun Tank to retrieve them. After the town's minor league baseball team is acquired by a new owner, who announces a contest for the opportunity to be batboy on opening day, Nick longs to enter and is bitterly disappointed to learn that the contest is on a Saturday. But when his arch-nemesis, Pete, taunts him about the contest, Nick is determined to find a way to realize his dream. Dekeyser (The Brixen Witch) based this funny and good-hearted story that warmly portrays life as the son of Greek immigrants on her father's childhood growing up in Milwaukee. Details such as the five-cent charge for new shoelaces bring the era to life, and the conclusion hits the story out of the park. Ages 8 12.