In 1936, the New York Yankees wanted to test a hot prospect named Joe DiMaggio to see if he was ready for the big leagues. They knew just the ballplayer to call—Satchel Paige, the best pitcher anywhere, black or white. For the game, Paige joined a group of amateur African American players, and they faced off against a team of white major leaguers plus young DiMaggio. The odds were stacked against the less-experienced black team. But Paige's skillful batting and amazing pitching—with his "trouble ball" and "bat dodger"— kept the game close. Would the rookie DiMaggio prove himself as major league player? Or would Paige once again prove his greatness—and the injustice of segregated baseball?
Paige, a black baseball player who was a renowned pitcher well before the days of Jackie Robinson, wasn't permitted to play in the major leagues. But his reputation was such that when the Yankees wanted to test the mettle of a rookie named Joe DiMaggio, they arranged for him to play against the Satchel Paige All-Stars. Cooper's grainy illustrations look as though they are filtered through sunlight, striking a nostalgic chord, while Skead's play-by-play ("This was DiMaggio's last chance to pass the test. His heart raced as he looked for Satchel's release point and the ball coming like a bullet on fire") provides a riveting, baseball story about two players seeking recognition of their worth. Ages 7 11.