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Center Field Hardcover – March 23, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Mike Semak's chances of becoming star center fielder and senior team captain are jeopardized when he loses his temper with a geeky classmate, Zack. The sweet spot on the baseball team becomes even more elusive when a cocky cleanup batter, Oscar Ramirez, arrives out of nowhere with a murky birth date and questionable immigration status. Mike's penance for fighting is to help out at Cyber Club, but he learns that Coach Cody purposefully assigned him to spy on Zack and other "pukes" he suspects are hacking into the school network. There, he falls for Kat, a smart and contentious girl who seems the antithesis of his girlfriend, Lori, a pretty baton twirler. Conflicted about Kat, his coach's paranoia, and his father's possible role in bringing the Ramirez family to town, Mike looks to his major league idol, Billy Budd, whose blog has always provided sound advice about baseball and other life matters. Mike wins a contest to meet his longtime hero, only to be disappointed by the "dumb jock" reality, and finds his own moral compass to solve his problems. Appealing primarily to a jock culture, Lipsyte's characters are fairly stereotypical, especially in Coach Cody's military approach to sports and discipline, and in Lori's portrayal as a giggly boy pleaser with a "pert butt and boobs." Mystery and relationship subplots may engage a wider audience, but the story shines in the play-by-play game and practice descriptions. While some real major league names are dropped, fictional Billy Budd's portrayal as a celebrity carefully conceived by media handlers is an element that won't be lost on teens.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

High-school-junior Mike Semak has worked hard to earn his starting position in center field on his varsity baseball team. He finds inspiration and training tips by closely following the Web site of his hero, Billy Budd (a fictional member of the Yankees). Mike’s dream year becomes complicated after the arrival of Oscar, a Dominican who threatens his position. In addition, Mike contends with a stale relationship with his girlfriend, as well as required community service with the school’s Cyber Club. The novel includes intriguing ethical issues, but there are too many of them, and the plot spirals out of control as it follows its multiple strands about a coach’s personal secrets, illegal-immigration charges, a disappointing meeting with Billy Budd, and Mike’s new romance (including sex) with Kat, a track star whose nickname is Tigerbitch for her violent mood swings. It’s the novel, not the players, that are on steroids here, but Lipsyte is a master at sports fiction, and the baseball sequences are first rate. Grades 9-12. --Cindy Dobrez

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060557044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060557041
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Mike Semak's dream is to play center field. His idol is Yankee centerfielder Billy Budd. He lives and breathes any advice he can find from the great Billy Budd.

Mike's focus is directed at playing his best, which means clearing his mind of anything that is not baseball. He tries to steer clear of too-serious relationships with girls. He avoids involvement in his parents' latest project - opening a new floor covering store - and he pushes the problems of his sister, a single young mother living in New York, and his older brother, a championship cello player, to the back of his mind.

Unfortunately, Mike comes up against several distractions that may threaten the intense focus on his goal. One obstacle standing in his way is a new player named Oscar. He is a new kid from the Dominican Republic who shows up and looks to be a challenge for the center field position. Coach Cody lets them both know they will have to prove themselves to earn the position.

All the pressure Mike is feeling about baseball comes to a head in a silly incident with a notorious school geek named Zack. In a moment of lost control, Mike shoves Zack and ends up regretting it when, as punishment, he finds himself helping the Cyber Club provide Saturday computer instruction at the local senior center. Having the little computer nerd boss him around is almost more than he can take. The only highlight about the community service becomes another distraction for Mike's center field dreams - Katherine Herold.

Kat is a track athlete with an interest in photography and filming. Her membership in the Cyber Club surprises Mike, but he's glad to have a chance to get to know her.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a mystery, and a romance, and a adventure all
in one. I really like this book because of the way the
author told the story. I recommend this to mature teens into

This book is called Center Field by Robert Lipsyte. I
think the author did achieve his purpose, which was to tell
the reader a little more about baseball. The plot of the
story caught my attention very well. Actually, I am into
sports and I always wanted to try out baseball. And as soon
as I read this book, I fell in love with it. This book to me
was very moving, because Robert Lipsyte wasn't afraid to
make the book his own and create a teen story. And I also
felt moved that I'm not the only one who feels that way
about sports, and how Mike was relating to kids at his
school. This book is about Mike Semak, a regular guy in high
school, who is living the dream being on a baseball field
like he is on the top of the world. I really liked the
ending of the story because, Mike gets the girl he was
dreaming to have. Though his friends tease him for it,he
thinks, maybe it doesn't matter what they say. Mike sticks
up for himself, and shows everyone who is boss. I actually
loved every part of this book. It had me ripping through the
pages to see what Mike was going to do next. I think anyone
who reads this will love it, but I know young sports fanatics
will die to read it.

Reviewed by a young adult student reviewer
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Format: Hardcover
As the star pitcher of Ridgedale High's baseball team, Mike Semak is infatuated with the game. He believes in success at any cost, but pressures on and off the field are becoming too exacting. After instigating a fight with a "puke" from the cyber club, Mike is punished with community service. His subsequent experiences help him discover a world that is bigger than his own view of center field.

Baseball is a true passion of Mike's, his lifetime idol being a pro player who led his team to the World Series. Being in center field gives Mike a certain rush, a kind of peace that comes only from being empowered and in the place he understands. But the arrival of a new player during his junior year interrupts this peace. Oscar Ramirez has just made the team and is quite possibly more athletic and a better pitcher than Mike. Most team members don't welcome him openly as some are racist and Oscar is out to take Mike's position. Being outmatched is something Mike simply isn't used to, so the pressures of winning really start to get to him.

As a jock, Mike is in a hallowed position at Ridgedale, in a group who are smug about their status and pretty much keeps to themselves. The baseball team is prestigious enough that players are entitled to their pick of the girls, and Mike and his friend Ryan are going out with beautiful blonde cheerleaders. Yet Mike has found lately that he isn't really as interested in Lori as he was. They have a great time partying together, and she's sweet and entirely open to him physically and an identical twin (a scenario many guys wouldn't dream of passing up), but there's just something missing in their intellectual and emotional connection. Mike has recently begun fantasizing about an athletic girl who is also a member of the cyber club, Katherine Herold.
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