Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Arigon Starr

Published by Kokila

Summary:  The story opens with a key moment of the 1911 World Series: Charles Bender of the Philadelphia Athletics pitching to John Meyers of the New York Giants, who hits a double, then goes on to score the winning run of Game One.  Both Charles and John were from Native Nations, and the book goes back to trace the stories of how each one got to play in the World Series.  Charles grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota before being sent to an Indian boarding school in Philadelphia.  John’s childhood was spent on the Cahuila reservation in California.  Each endured poverty and racism as they pursued their love of baseball and eventually wound up in the major leagues.  Together, they played in nine World Series; Charles was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953, and both were inducted into the American Indian Hall of Fame when it opened in 1972.  The book ends with a list of Native MLB players today, and the racism that’s still present with racist team mascots.  Includes an author’s note, timeline, and list of sources.  48 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  A fascinating look at two men who faced hardship and racism throughout their lives but rose above it to become excellent athletes who exemplified sportsmanship and teamwork.

Cons:  Kids I work with seem to have no interest in professional baseball these days.

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