Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball

Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball

James Charlton, Sally Cook
Illustrator:  Ross MacDonald 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2007   ISBN: 978-1416912071

It is true that baseball is considered to be "the National Pastime" but it has not always been the game we play today. Much has changed in the hundred or so years since baseball became an official game. For example, you used to be able to get a runner out by hitting him with the ball. That is a practice which ballplayers must have been very happy to see the last of. Then there was the fact that teams did not have team colors the way that they do today. Both the fans and the team members must have spent a certain amount of time trying to figure out who was who. Just to make things a little more complicated - and painful - fielders did not use gloves of any kind to catch the ball until the 1890's.

Finally it was decided that the players had to have uniforms for clarity's sake and colors were chosen for the teams. The players had to pay for their own uniforms which were made out of wool and which must have been incredibly hot and itchy. The players also had to pay extra for their equipment. The teams were given names and of course many ended up with nicknames, as did the players as well. Different kinds of throws and plays were given names, some of which are still is use today.

Baseball fans of all ages will find this picture book fascinating. Readers will get a very true sense of what baseball was like in the "old days" when gloves where primitive, when balls and bats were sometimes doctored, and when heroes like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig drove fans wild. Not only will readers find out about the game, the tools, the rules and the players, but they will also learn a great deal of old time baseball vocabulary and slang. This is a one-of-a-kind title which is a must for baseball fans of all kinds.