My 5th grade son loves books about sports. He's grown out of (the great) Matt Christopher books, and I am always on the lookout for YA sports books.
Last year Tim Green, a former Atlanta Falcon, wrote 'Football Hero' and 'Football Genius'. I immediately snapped them up for my son, and he devoured them and begged for more like them. We were sad to discover that although Tim Green has written other books, they are adult novels. So I was thrilled to see a new YA sports-themed Tim Green book released.
My son read 'Baseball Great' in one day and gave it a 10 out of 10 rating!
This is a story about Josh, a 12 year-old who moves from town to town because his domineering Santini-esque father is a minor league baseball player and keeps getting traded. Josh plays baseball too, he's got talent, and baseball season is about at his new school; he's excited to play for the team with his friends, and to maybe the star of the team. But his father yanks him off the school team and forces him to try out for a traveling U14 youth league team, the Titans, run by Rocky Valentine. Rocky makes his boys lift weights, drink 'Super Stax' shake supplements, and work hard. Despite being only 12, Josh makes the team. Now his school friends are mad at him for leaving the team, and the travel team kids hate him for causing one of them to be cut to make room for Josh. Things, of course, get worse from there, and Rocky is indeed the villain.
'Baseball Great' is an exciting, fast-paced book that should appeal to most YA readers (I would think that boys ages 10-13 would most enjoy this book). You don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy it, it has plenty of middle-school themes, but a sports-oriented kid will really love this book.