Baseball. America’s Pastime. My pastime? Not so much. Granted, I have been watching the World Series this week (go Phillies!) and I grew up with a grandmother who is the world’s biggest Mets fan, so baseball has always been a part of my life. It’s just that it usually served as background noise. Honestly, I find baseball to be boring. (I know, I know!). Give me soccer or basketball any day of the week. Even football! I like my sports to be fast, exciting, and team-oriented. So when I saw that James Preller’s Six Innings was nominated for a Cybil Award, I was afraid I would have a hard time getting through it. Luckily, nothing could be farther from the truth!
It’s the championship game between Earl Grubb’s Pool Supplies and Northeast Gas & Electric. The game means something different to each player, but it’s equally important to them all. Two teams, six innings, one championship. The boys are between the ages of 11 and 13 and this is the biggest game of their lives. For some, it’s only the beginning of a career that they hope will end in the majors. For others, it’s the final game they will play. Next year, many will move to the Babe Ruth league. Each year, fewer and fewer boys will play. This game is the biggest game of their lives.
Six Innings is told inning by inning, from the viewpoint of different players. Pitchers, catchers, center fielders- we view the game through their eyes. Benchwarmers and stars alike, each player is a vital part of the game and story. Even the announcer, a boy who played on one of the championship game teams until only a few months before, tells the story from his vantage point.
This is a quick read, and the fact that it all takes place within a single baseball game makes it even more exciting. While I am not a baseball fan, and sometimes was confused by the overwhelming amount of baseball terminology, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. This is a story that baseball fans, especially boys, will flock to. The game is described in detail, which may turn off some non-sports fans, but you can tell that James Preller poured his own passion for baseball into the story. I am looking forward to introducing it into my classroom library because many of my boys play Little League and I know they will connect with this story. However, this is also a story about friendship, family, and the pressures that kids deal with. I can see some of my girls connecting to these aspects of the book and also enjoying the story.