In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.
This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.
"A grand slam" —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The story's moments of triumph sound the loudest notes" — Publisher's Weekly
"This uplifting account of a family and the integration of Boston baseball will be inspiring to many youngsters." — School Library Journal
"This picture book contributes to children's understanding of America's past, while telling a good story"— Booklist
Even after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, other hurdles remained for black professional baseball players. It's something that Bernard, the young African-American narrator of Wittenstein's first picture book, is acutely aware of. "How come the Giants got Willie Mays, and Jackie Robinson retired from the Dodgers, but we still don't have a Negro player?" Bernard, a devoted Red Sox fan, asks his father. A promising minor leaguer, Pumpsie Green, finally gets a shot to play, but it's no easy road; the Red Sox, Wittenstein explains, were the last major league team to integrate, in 1959. The racism that Green was up against is evident in both Wittenstein's story and in Ladd's (Frederick's Journey) expressive, dramatically framed acrylics; at Fenway, Bernard and his family are told to "Sit down and shut up" by a white fan and then scolded by a policeman. Bernard's conversational narration creates a warm bond with readers from the get-go, and although Wittenstein and Ladd never sugarcoat instances of racial prejudice, the story's moments of triumph sound the loudest notes. Ages 5 8. Author's agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words.