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The Pitcher by [Hazelgrove, William]
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The Pitcher Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Length: 252 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Age Level: 12 - 80
Grade Level: 6 - 17

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ricky Hernandez, 13, can hurl a 75-miles-per-hour fastball. If only he could get it near the plate. Scraping by with a single mother suffering from lupus, Ricky is determined to show up the rich bullies, the kids who mock his Mexican heritage—all of them. But it seems like a lost cause until he meets his surly hermit neighbor, who just happens to be one-time World Series MVP Jack Langford. Soon a relationship begins between the Hernandezes and Langford, who begrudgingly agrees to give Ricky a few pointers. Mostly, though, he guzzles beer while forcing the kid to do puzzling things like throw stones at trees for weeks on end. It’s a set-up you’ve seen before—bitter, fallen hero taking on his demons via a brash upstart—but Hazelgrove negates cliché by powering straight through it and embracing the classic nature of the tale, which manages to be both modern and timeless. You can taste the ballpark dust, feel the smack of the ball in your glove, and feel assured that, somehow, these three strongly drawn characters will push on to victory. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus

Review



#1 Amazon Bestseller in Contemporary Urban Fiction
#1 Amazon Bestseller in Teen and Young Adult Sports Fiction

"William Hazelgrove has fashioned a near classic baseball story."
                                                                              San Francisco Review of Books

"With tense moments, unexpected twists, and a few humorous and joyful reprieves, Hazelgrove's writing reflects the dramatic arc of a baseball game."              
                                                                                                        Junior Library Guild

"You can taste the ballpark dust, feel the smack of the ball in your glove, and feel assured that, somehow, these three strongly drawn characters will push on to victory."
                                                                                                                    Booklist

"An enaging well written story with plenty of human drama--this one is a solid hit."  Kirkus

Product Details

  • File Size: 839 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1938467590
  • Publisher: Koehler Books (July 1, 2013)
  • Publication Date: July 1, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JMYIVWO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,875 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read many baseball novels throughout the years from Harold M. Sherman's books written in the 1930s, the TAB Books of the 1950s, like "The Kid Who Batted 1.000" and the many books of John R. Tunis, up through my adult years with books such as "The Natural," and the Crabbe Evers series and the excellent mysteries of Troy Soos. Many of these, and others, are quite decent, if not, excellent baseball novels. But none of these ever came close to leaving me with the intense sense of wonder that I felt after, and while, reading Mr. Hazelgrove's, "The Pitcher." "To Kill a Mockingbird" combined with the coach from "The Bad News Bears" might point you in the same direction, but, obviously, these two books cannot be combined. Although grounded in the trappings of reality, this book is magical.

The son's ambitions and hopes combined with his mother's support are what the book is all about. But, throw in a down-at-the-heels, former star player, and the book becomes one that should be read slowly, and savored, in order to enjoy every nuance of the plot. Again, this book is magical.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am blown away by this novel. It gave me more chills than "The Field Of Dreams" and "The Natural" combined. I choked up more times reading this, soon to be classic tale, than a team that leaves 11 men on base during a game. I kid you not; it's that moving.
This is much more than a story of the love of a game, or a mother's dream for her child. This is a perfectly crafted piece of literary fiction that is relevant to contemporary issues of the day.
You will come to respect and admire Maria and her son Ricky. If you're like me, you will be fascinated by the Pitcher Jack Langford. All I could see when I read about him was Clint Eastwood (about 25 years younger). You'll love his evolution and root for him as well as Maria and Ricky. If this isn't made into a movie, Hollywood is missing out on a potential blockbuster as big or bigger than "Sandlot" or "The Natural".
It weaves in hot button issues like illegal immigration, health care, and domestic violence in a way that isn't preachy or over the top. It is sentimental but not maudlin.
These issues and the dream of a mother and child to have "their moment to shine" is brilliantly done in a manner that is at times humorous, tension filled, and totally satisfying. The last 25 % of the book will have you in angst as the the twists of the story unfold into a totally fulfilling conclusion.
This novel is a must read for men and women of all ages. I just can't put into words how impressive this book is, but I have no doubt that this future best seller is Mr. Hazelgrove's
"moment to shine".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you love baseball then read this book. I had the image of Clint Eastwood as the pitcher. Had me crying for a minute.The pitcher is rough and gruff but you know he is a good guy.I was waiting for the boy to be great in the game.read it!
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I'm picky about what I read, particularly when it comes to YA fiction and books about sports, as both are difficult nuts to crack for any author. I've read TOBACCO STICKS and ROCKET MAN, two of Hazelgrove's previous book, and while I enjoyed both, I was skeptical about his ability to create a narrative that melded these two new categories together into a story that would draw me in.

So when THE PITCHER was recommended to me by a friend who knows that SHOELESS JOE, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS are three of my favorite books, and FIELD OF DREAMS and BULL DURHAM are two of my all-time favorite movies, at first I ignored him. Then a second friend chimed in, unsolicited, with the same recommendation, so I gave it a chance.

I'm glad I did.

Hazelgrove has pulled off something not many authors can do -- he has created is a story that manages to be a breezy read, while also being sweet, powerful and heart-felt. There are a thousand tales of kids reaching for their dreams, encouraged by a special "Obi-Wan"-esque mentor, but despite that THE PITCHER manages to come off as fresh and even original in its point-of-view of this tale as old as time.

As I said before, I've read other books by the author. As much as I liked them, though, I have to say that THE PITCHER feels the most authentic. Hazelgrove has found his voice in this book, through these characters and with a story that feels personal and real. A good writer, like a good actor, can make almost any material work (though it will likely still come across as wooden), but no matter how good an author may be, he or she can't force their writing to live and breathe...that comes only from a well-grounded connection to the material. That's what Hazelgrove has accomplished here.

Want to feel good? Read THE PITCHER.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wish I had read something like this as a teen. It would have given me the hope and inspiration all boys need.

This is just a story of a boy and a man, of dreams, and a strong mom who would not let her son fail. I have long maintained that a boy needs a man in his life, a positive role model. And, in order to be successful at any vocation or skill, one needs a mentor. It is almost impossible to succeed without strong and loving guidance. Ricky had the best of both worlds: mom and man as mentors.

Being from the North Side, I resent that the author didn't use a Cub as The Pitcher. The book shares fond recollections of Wrigley Field and Chicago; thank you. Of course, since The Pitcher starred in and won a World Series, that would have changed the book from a novel to pure fantasy!

Read it; you'll love it.
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