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The Boy Who Saved Baseball Hardcover – May 12, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Cruz de la Cruz Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-This novel goes beyond the usual baseball story by introducing the deeper issue of big developers encroaching upon nature and small-town life in rural California. Doc Altenheimer, an 87-year-old apple rancher, seems to be ready to sell his 320 acres of prime real estate that makes up a good part of Dillontown and its baseball field. He surprises young Tom and the rest of the residents by proposing that the decision should ride on a baseball game between the locals and the well-equipped summer-camp team down the road. Despite the odds against Dillontown, a surprise ending is in store. Characters are colorful and intriguing. There is the villainous mayor who believes there will be great prosperity if new roads and expensive houses are built. A mysterious boy, Cruz de la Cruz, arrives on horseback claiming to know the secret of hitting, and brings hope and spirit back to the residents. He and Tom seek out an old baseball legend, Dante Del Gato, a recluse who walked away from the majors many years before, and convince him to be their coach. Ritter's descriptive passages will have readers feeling they are actually at the ballpark tasting the swirling dust amid the authentic Mexican food cooked by the supportive townspeople. Spanish phrases blend in unobtrusively throughout the saga. This tale is peppered with both optimism and dilemmas; it has plenty of play-by-play action, lots of humor, and a triumphant ending.
Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 5-7. Ritter delivers a baseball tale of legendary dimension, featuring several larger-than-life characters and a team of ordinary young folk tackling a seemingly insurmountable challenge in defense of a worthy cause. After old Doc Altenheimer promises not to sell his acres to developers if the local, ragtag summer camp can field a team that beats the nearby exurb's all-stars, along comes young Cruz de la Cruz, with a bat slung into a rifle holster on his saddle and a self-designed computer game that simulates the delivery of any pitch. Knowing they'll need more than that to be ready, 12-year-old benchwarmer Tom enlists gruff loner Dante del Gato, a renowned Major Leaguer who suddenly quit the game, as trainer. While local boosters turn the tumbledown practice field into a rolling fiesta, and eager reporters gather to watch, Tom and his fellow Wildcats find themselves playing better than they ever thought they could--good thing, too, as Cruz, his work done, disappears on game day, propelling Tom into the lineup for last-inning heroics. Developing both cast and multiple plotlines in suitably "wild and woolbacious" prose, Ritter dishes up another stellar read--topped off by a convincing Web site, http://www.cruz-on.com, apparently fabricated for the book, that adds verisimilitude. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 660L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; First Edition edition (May 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399236228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399236228
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,263,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Novelist John H. Ritter (born October 31, 1951, in San Pedro, California) grew up in the summer-dry hills east of San Diego. "I grew up in a baseball family," says John. "But we were also a family of musicians and mathematicians, house painters and poets. My dad was a sports writer in Ashtabula, Ohio, who moved the family out west, just before I was born, to become Sports Editor for The San Diego Union."

Growing up in a sparse, mountainous region also helped stretch John's imagination. "Out in that country," he says, "there was a real sense of the spirits who walked the land in the centuries before. And being so cut off from other kids, I roamed the hills a lot, following hawks and eagles, climbing boulders, sitting in Indian caves. Rattlesnakes never bothered us much. But I felt the spirits everywhere. I think my mom, who was part Blackfoot Indian, had a lot to do with that."

When John was only four, however, his mother died of breast cancer, leaving his father to raise four small children on his own. John still recalls his mother and her songs. "One thing I remember about my mom is that she sang to us constantly, making up a song for each of her four children that fit our personalities perfectly. So from her, I got a sense of how to capture a person's spirit in a lyrical phrase."

Over time, his musical interests continued to grow and in high school, the social commentary of folksinger Bob Dylan inspired him to write his own songs, hoping to pursue a musical career. He was, however, a "wild student," he admits to English professor Chris Crowe in an interview for The ALAN Review, and was torn between his love of baseball and writing, calling himself both "a high achiever and a rabble rouser," noting, for example, that in 1969 he was voted Senior Class President and the Senior Class Clown. Teachers did, however, recognize his writing talent, although his work was so often read out loud in class that he also admits to growing complacent and somewhat lazy about having to improve his skills.

At the University of California, San Diego, John studied communications while playing for the UCSD baseball team, all-the-while continuing to write Dylan-style songs. But by his sophomore year, he recalls, "I was anxious to get on with my life. And for the vision I had in mind, college didn't have much to offer me. I knew I had to walk the streets, touch life, embrace life, gain experience." So like his literary heroes before him, i.e., Dylan, Jack Kerouac, and Mark Twain, John quit school, taking a job as a painter's apprentice, and set about traveling the country. He learned to live so cheaply that he could earn enough in three or four months to allow him to travel and write for the rest of the year. He did that for several years, until he married his wife, Cheryl, whom he had met in college, and they had a baby daughter. With a family to support, John needed to work nine months a year, painting houses, but the rest of his time went into writing, an artistic lifestyle he later spotlighted in his song-laden socio-political novel, Under the Baseball Moon.

In 1994, after publishing several short stories, John received the Judy Blume Award and a cash grant from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) for a novel in progress. In 1996, he submitted his manuscript through the Curtis Brown Agency to Philomel Books where it became the first book-length acquisition of junior editor, Michael Green. Since then, Green has risen to become Editorial Director and Publisher of Philomel Books and has edited all six of John's novels.

In 1999, John's first novel, Choosing Up Sides, won the International Reading Association Children's Book Award for Older Readers and was designated an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. The hard-hitting work of historical fiction, set in Southern Ohio, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as, "No ordinary baseball book, this is a rare first novel." Since then, John has published five more award-winning books and numerous short stories.

In 2004, he received the Paterson Prize for Children's Literature for his third novel, The Boy Who Saved Baseball. Cited in People Magazine as a book to read, "Now that the youngsters have read Harry Potter...", The Boy Who Saved Baseball also garnered a rave review in Publishers Weekly, which called the book's prose "Enthralling...at times stunning," and that, "Ritter delivers a baseball tale of legendary dimension."

According to Vicki Sherbert, writing in The ALAN Review, "Ritter uses the game of baseball, the glory of music, and the power of the written word to illustrate how young people can overcome everyday, and not-so-everyday, challenges. Each book goes beyond the story of the game, beyond the story of the problem, right to the heart of Ritter's message: What is really valuable in life?"

Literary scholar and essayist, Patty Campbell, also notes that, "Another aspect of John H. Ritter's writing that merits high praise is the variety and inventiveness of his language. Richly evocative metaphors gather layers of meaning as the stories unfold, and the verbal style of each novel is neatly crafted to the place and time of its setting. Under the Baseball Moon dances to a hip hop beachtown beat; Over the Wall wisecracks with a California kid's take on New York; The Boy Who Saved Baseball draws on both Spanish and English to make up zingy new expressions, and Choosing Up Sides savors the naiveté of the historic Appalachian dialect of southern Ohio. His settings, too, are vividly distinct and vary from the Hispanic/Anglo blend of his own Southern California hill communities to the "small town" neighborhoods of present day New York; from the eclectic oceanfront culture of the Pacific beach towns to the church-centered villages on the banks of the Ohio River during Prohibition."

John's fifth novel, The Desperado Who Stole Baseball, was a 2009 Jr. Library Guild selection and takes an historical look at the roots of racism in the Major Leagues. Set in the Wild West of the 1880s and written in the manner of a tall tale, Desperado is a prequel to The Boy Who Saved Baseball.

And coming soon (April 12, 2012) is John's sixth novel, Fenway Fever, also a Junior Library Guild selection and a book his publisher describes as "another magical novel that celebrates teamwork--and the innate power to heal that even the least among us is born with." New York Times bestselling author Peter Abrahams called Fenway Fever, "A funny, exciting, original, and heartwarming novel."

"In all of these wonderful novels," writes Patty Campbell, "John H. Ritter steps up to the plate and hits a home run for teen reading with books that are fun to read, fun to discuss, and important in the difficult process of growing up to be an ethical human being."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The name of the book I read was The Boy Who Saved Baseball by John H. Ritter. The main conflict in this book is that the whole town especially the people who have alot of money and own alot of land want to tear down the old Dillontown baseball field, but thier baseball team the wildcats dont and if they could beat the best team in the state they get to keep there baseball field. This is pretty much the main problem in the story.

I didnt really dislike anything in the book the author was very creative the only sad part is when doc dies but it is for a purpose. The book was very exciting. It was exciting because the author was vey creative with it and it allways left you hanging in a way. When I was reading I felt like I was tom because I have the exact same personality and he does what I would do. One of the best things about the book was its ending it was so creative, I love how the author thought ahead of time when he wrote the book.

This book is the first book I have ever read by this author and I loved it it was absolutely awesome in a couple of days I am going to look up his name in the library and read another one. Also the authors writing was so descriptive I felt like I was in the book as I said before. This authors writing style is my writing style I loved it. I also like how descrbed his characters and what there personalities were. They were perfect for each person.

If I had to rate this book I would give it a 3 thumbs up. After I read a book I always Say I loved I and give it a 5 star rating. Not that the books were bad I just didn't enjoy them as much as I enjoyed this one especially the ending.

I dont want to give anymore information out just in case your reading this. I would recomend this book to boy or girl at any age its a fantastic book. You have to read it!

By: Max Mordini
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Format: Hardcover
What's most brilliant about The Boy Who Saved Baseball is how John Ritter writes to adults and children at the same time. The kids get the story on their "Let's go you cowboys, computer geeks, and baseball fanatics against huge odds" level. But for adults, on the higher level, this is easily one of the deepest and most thought provoking baseball novels ever written.

So much is here. There's the lyrical language. There's the pure love of the California mountains ("A boy needs to read the earth. This is a truth older than the iron dust that redpaints the boulders. Older than the woolback mammoths that are fossiled in these hills.").

As the forlorn baseball campers ponder the night sky, Ritter weaves in a prophecy alluding to the Vachel Lindsay poem, "The Congo." Throughout the book, a self-described tramp, Hollis B (based on Lindsay's "The Tramp"), shows up to talk in prophetic verse, as a sort of Greek chorus, using a broken cell phone as cover so no one will report him as crazy or dangerous.

The characters are Mexican, Mexican-American, and Euro-American--without ever saying so--and are united. Not a big deal. Neither are the three girls (Maria is remarkable) who make up one third of the baseball team.

And the parody of the radio talkshow, which shows up to broadcast from the field, is classic, especially when Hollis B talks about his position on the controversy using a soliloquy based on Casey Stengal's historical (and hysterical) testimony before Congress regarding baseball's monopoly.

A deep and fun-loving novel for all, fan or not, this is a literary and storytelling gem. I highly recommend it.-Jenna Diaz, New York, NY.
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Format: Hardcover
Hey reader, do you like underdog stories? If you do, you will enjoy The Boy Who Saved Baseball, by John H. Ritter. It is about a baseball team of friends that isn't very good that has to beat an extremely good rival team in order to save their town from being developed. Tom, (the main character) has to also find out why Dante Del Gato

quit baseball. You will become a fan of the Dillontown Wildcats baseball team by the end of this book. I recommend this book because it is very interesting and I had fun reading it.

If something seems impossible, but you try your hardest, you can achieve your goals, but have fun trying. When Tom and his friends were running down the big hill, most of the kids are laughing. Tom tries his hardest and works out in order to get better at baseball. They have a sleepover the night before the big game. When the team was losing, nobody gave up. The team always eats out together. This book really shows why you should never give up on anything.

You will literally become friends with these interesting characters, they are mostly all nice people. Tom isn't that great at baseball but is a friendly kid who helps out his neighbor, (Doc). Cruz de la Cruz is an excellent baseball player and tries to help all of his teammates become better baseball players. Doc is an old friendly neighbor who is read the box scores by Tom every morning. Dante Del Gato is an old grumbling man who used to play professional baseball but is now despised by the town... read the book and find out why! Maria is one of the few girls on the team. You will think that these characters are people that you know.

You will feel like every place in this book is real. This story takes place mostly in Dillontown, California and in the present.
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