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Look Who's Playing First Base/Catcher With a Glass Arm/The Kid Who Only Hit Homers: Action-packed Baseball Stories/Look Who's Playing First Base/Catcher With a Glass Arm/The Kid Who Only Hit Homers Paperback – August 1, 1989
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I first read this book in about 1980 or '81, when I was 7 or 8. Along with Catcher with a Glass Arm (Matt Christopher Sports Classics), it was one of the most influential books of my childhood, helping fuel my obsession with baseball. It helps that here, unlike many of other Matt Christopher books which are not set anywhere, "First Base" is set in "Plainview", a town 45 minutes from New York City. I grew up 45 minutes from New York City, in a town a mile down the road from an actual Plainview. So, this book could have literally taken place where I grew up, although my town back then was roughly half Catholic and half Jewish, and there were no Lefties, Bunkers or Ikes on my Little League teams.
"Look Who's Playing First Base" is memorable because of Yuri's plight. Not only is he an immigrant from a country that the US was on very poor terms with, he's also, to begin with, a terrible player. Apart from the main character in the book (Mike Hagin, the team's second baseman) no-one is particularly fond of Yuri; he drops a lot of pop-ups, commits a few throwing errors, and is angrily called "Communist" by one of the other boys, back at a time when that was one of the worst things a 12-year-old boy could call you. However, Yuri turns out to be quite the slugger. He eventually helps keep the team in the hunt for the league pennant, even after their best player, catcher Don Waner (named, seemingly, after the Waner brothers of the 1920s, both in the Hall of Fame), walks off the team to protest Yuri's presence.
Most of the book takes place on the baseball field. Mike's parents are seen only once, there's no school to speak of, and only one chapter shows the kids talking about something other than baseball -- when Yuri describes how different life is in the USSR to the US, and how his family left to escape Communism (in the real 1971, Yuri's family almost certainly would have been Jewish, but that's not even hinted at here). And the baseball is very well written. Matt Christopher structures his games so carefully that you could keep score for most of them, and compile statistics, too.
One thing that's interesting, reading this book for the second time, 30 years after my first time and over 40 years after it was actually written, is how different baseball is played now. Mike is the team's number two hitter, and he often bunts in the first inning, with a runner on first and nobody out. That would never happen today. The team's third-place hitter (Hank, probably as in Hank Aaron) often swings at the first pitch. Again, that would never happen today. Also, the team's coach, at one point, slaps his ace pitcher on the backside after a mound conference. One more time... that would NEVER happen today.
The book is still an important read today, because of its themes of loyalty and tolerance, which are good lessons for any generation of kids. There's a happy ending, and the writing is very good for the under-10 crowd. Even though I hadn't read it in over 30 years, I still remembered a lot of the key moments in the book, and I'm glad I rediscovered it!
THIS STORY WAS ABOUT THIS ONE KID NAMED SYLVESTER CODDMEYER111. HE THOUGHT HE WASN'T A GOOD BASEBALL PLAYER, SO HE DIDN'T TRY PUT FOR THE TEAM EVEN THUGH HE LOVED BASEBALL MORE THAN ANYTHING. THEN ON DAY THIS GUY NMED EORG BARUTH ASKED HIM WHY HE WASN'T OUT THERE AND SYLVSTER SAID I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH. BUT THEN GEORGE SAID MEET ME AFTER PRACTICE AND I'LL TEACH YOU TO BE A BETTER BALL PLAYER. THEN SYLVESTER SHOWED THE COACH HO GOOD HE COULD HIT AND CATCH AND COACH CORBIN SAID HE COULD BE ON THE TEAM. SYLVESTER NEVER STRUCK OUT AND HE ONLY HIT HOMERUNS. MR. BARUTH WAS AT EVERY PRACTICE AND GAME. BECAUSE SYLVESTER WAS THE NEXT BABE RUTH PEOPLE WANTER HIM TO BE IN COMMERCIALS AND MAGAZINES. SYLVESTER NEVER FOUND OUT WHO MR.BARUTHREALY WAS. AFTER THE LAST GAME HE JUST WALKED AWAY AND DISIPIRED.
SYLVESTER WAS 12 YEARS OLD AND HE LOVED BASEBALL A LOT. HE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF CONFIDENCE IN HIS ABILTY TO PLAY BASEBALL UNTIL HE GOT SPECIAL HELP. WHEN HE GOT REALY GOOD HE WAS HAPPY BUT HE Didn't BRAG ABOUT IT. HE WAS ALSO A GOOD FRIEND. IM LIKE SYLVESTER BECAUSE I LOVE BASEBALL TOO. I ALSO PLAY BETTERWHEN I PRACTICE. IM DIFFERENT BECAUSE I DON'T ALWAYS HIT HOMERUNS I DON'T LIKE TO SIT AND WATCH I LIKE T PLAY.
I LIKED THE BOOK IT WAS MY FAVORITE BOOK. BECAUSE I LIKE TO PLAY BASEBALL AND I LIKE THE STORY. MY FAVRITE PART OF THE BOOK WAS WHEN HE SHOWED THE CACH HOW GOOD HE WAS. I ALSO LIKED IT WHEN HE MET GORGE BARUTH. I THINK THAT EVERY ONE SHOULD READ IT.
Reviewer: A 10-year old reader from Hill AFB UT. USA
The book I read was "Look whose playing first base". Have you ever moved from another country to the USA? Yuri has. Yuri is a boy from Russia who comes to America and meets a boy named Mike. When Mike met Yuri, he was tossing a ball against a wall and Mike said hey what sup and asked Yuri if he would like to play first base man on there team. Because their last first base man moved away. Their teams name is the checkmates. Yuri was left-handed and left-handed players are best at first base. Yuri was not a very good player at first. The only reason he got to stay on the team is because of his bat and he always hits home runs. Don the teams catcher threatened to quit and so he did but if you want find out if he comes back and if they win their last game.
Something special. This book teaches you about sportsmanship and that winning is not everything also that you should never leave your real friends for dumb reasons
I think you should read this book because of the voluble lessons within the book. There are a lot of the other matt Christopher books to read that are full of exiting and touching stories.
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Look Who's Playing First Base is a great book. I liked that Yuri was from Russia.Read more
Reviewer: A 10-year old reader from Hill AFB UT. USA
The book I read was "Look whose playing first base".Read more