baseball and birthdays

Back in January my son asked me to write him a story for his birthday. Three months later I’ve put the finishing touches on a 32k-word novel, my first in the lit-for-kids line. Vikram turns 8 next week.


Among the themes (friendship, family, dreams) is baseball. With MLB opening day upon us, I thought I’d share a chapter. The excerpt treats Albert Newcastle’s baseball adventures with his newfound friend, the strange girl who wears boys clothes to school, Sylvie Perch.

Prior to the events of this excerpt, Albert (who has a hard time hearing) works with Sylvie (who has a hard time seeing) on a hitting strategy to overcome her vision problem: timing the pitch.


The players lined up on the infield, hats off for the National Anthem. Albert stood beside Sylvie at the plate, the rest of the Cubs in blue jerseys along the baseline toward first. In yellow and black on the third baseline were the Pirates, Hartness twins included.

Sylvie had heard those two sing the Anthem in school: farts bursting in air, poop through the night, the stink still there. Disgusting.

The ballpark felt electric with excitement, crowds jostling at the concession stand. Players warmed up in the batting cages and bullpens by the gravel parking lot. Now and then a ping of the bat, the pop of leather, a mighty cheer from the fans watching other games on the four fields, the public address system announcing players’ names.

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