List Fun: Baseball Stories You (Probably) Didn’t Know

Take me out to the ballgame! Cybils supporter Annette Bay Pimentel, who blogs about picture books (as well as writing them), has put together another great list of Cybils titles for us. For kids who enjoy the crack of the bat, these books are sure to be a home run.

BarbedWireBaseballBarbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. 2013 Cybils finalist. The moving, true story of a passionate baseball player who built his own ballpark, organized his own teams, and paid his own tribute to America’s great pastime while locked up during World War II in a Japanese internment camp. The beautiful illustrations were done with Japanese calligraphy pen and ink. This book is a hopeful but honest retelling of a troubling episode in America’s past.

BecomingBabeRuthBecoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares. 2013 Cybils Elementary/Middle School Nonfiction nominee. Sure. You know Babe Ruth. But did you know how the orphanage where he grew up shaped him? And how he supported that orphanage as a pro ball player? Matt Tavares’ over-sized illustrations make this luscious book a pleasure to read.

BrothersatBatBrothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno. 2012 Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book nominee. One family. Twelve brothers. One baseball team. This book tells the true story of New Jersey brothers who formed their own semi-pro team. The book follows their ups and downs, including injury and the trauma of war. An inspiring, fun read.

GrowingUpPedroGrowing up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues by Matt Tavares. 2015 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction nominee. If you follow baseball at all, you probably know Pedro Martinez, the superstar pitcher. But do you know the story of his close relationships to his brother, fellow Major League pitcher Ramón Martinez? This book tells the story of how Ramón mentored and taught his little brother how to pitch, how to live in a new country, and how to survive in the Major League.

JustAsGoodJust as Good: How Larry Doby Changed America’s Game by Chris Crowe, illustrated by Mike Benny. 2012 Cybils Fiction Picture Book nominee. Everybody knows Jackie Robinson. But this book argues that change really comes not with the first person to break a barrier but with the second. One person could be merely exceptional. But two examples means that things have really changed. This book tells the story of Larry Doby’s entry into Major League Baseball, the second African American to break the color barrier.

MiracleMudMiracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud That Changed Baseball by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez. 2013 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction nominee. Lena Blackburne loved baseball and wanted nothing more than to devote his life to it. But he didn’t have what it took to be a major leaguer. Once he’d washed out as a player, though, his inventiveness and entrepreneurial skills led him to a different baseball niche.

SheLovedBaseballShe Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate. 2011 Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book nominee. You may know about the great players in the Negro Leagues in the early years of the twentieth century. But did you know that one of their teams was a managed by a business-savvy, black woman? This book tells the story of how Effa Manley changed the business of baseball and how she helped shape our collective awareness of baseball’s heroes.

TheStreakThe Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Terry Widener. 2014 Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction nominee. Joe DiMaggio’s amazing hitting streak is a baseball staple, but this book explores how that streak affected a nation facing war.