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The Pitcher Paperback – September 1, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 192 ratings

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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


                  #1 Amazon Bestseller in Contemporary Urban Fiction

                  #1 Amazon Bestseller in Teen and Young Adult Sports Fiction

                  "Hazelgrove has fashioned a near classic baseball story"
                                                                                                  San Francisco Review

Hazelgrove knits a host of social issues into a difficult but believable tale in which junior high-age Ricky has a gift...a mean fastball. Given the portrayal of can't-catch-a-break lives and the cruelty and kindness of people young and old... readers might balk at a somewhat implausible solution when Ricky is thrown one final curve before tryouts. But no one will really mind--this kid deserves  a break.  
 An engaging, well written sports story with plenty of human drama--this one is a solid hit.
                                                                           Kirkus Review of Books

 "William Hazelgrove examines the culture of youth sports as Ricky faces ongoing discrimination from parents, coaches, and other kids."
                                                                                Junior Library Guild Pick for Fall 2013

"Hazelgrove (Rocket Man) measures out a generous sprinkling of American idealism while weaving in legitimate threads of sorrow, employing the oft-used baseball metaphor to fresh and moving effect. Adult characters are particularly well-crafted, giving the book crossover potential. "   
                                                                               Cevin Bryerman Publisher                              
                                                                                  Publishers Weekly

"Like all good baseball novels, Hazelgrove's, The Pitcher has spit and dirt and leather and battles between boys. And like all good baseball novels, The Pitcher is also about more than just baseball. There are dreams here, and hope (and a mom, something even the best baseball novels often forget about). The Pitcher is a story about making lives, and in Hazelgrove's hands you can feel them taking shape."
                                                                      Billy Lombardo, Author of The Man with Two Arms

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
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Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2013
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Top international reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars Pitching 101
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 29, 2016
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Elizabeth Genovese
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Hazelgrove brings on the heat!
Reviewed in Canada on February 2, 2015
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