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Ritter, John H.
New York : Philomel Books, 2003
IL 5-8, RL 6.5
ISBN 0399236228

(2 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

Dillontown is on the verge of becoming a housing development with its fate teetering on the results of a baseball game. If the Wildcats win, Doc Altenheimer won't give his property to the town for development. Tom Gallagher feels responsible. He will try anything to get the team together and in shape for the big game. He gets some help when the mysterious and talented Cruz de la Cruz rides into town. The boys are so desperate they even pay a visit to the reclusive Dante Del Gato, a former major league legend. Can they convince Del Gato to share his secret of baseball and save the town? (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2005-2006)

Booktalk #2

“Cruz sat up and swung his legs around. ‘Now I got a question for you guys.’ He said. ‘What’s this prophecy thing everybody’s talking about?’
“No one spoke. The question hit Tom like a fastball to the gut. He knew the story best and felt everyone silently urging him to answer. But he couldn’t. He did not want Cruz to know.
“’Okay, look, here’s all it is,’ Ramon said. ‘A long time ago, there was this prospector named Blackjack Buck . He had this talent for seeing the future. And that’s pretty much it.’
“’That’s it?’ said Cruz. ‘That’s huge! What was he, like a psychic?’
“’I don’t know, but every time he got just enough gold dust, he’d, head into town and straight for the wine barrel room behind St. Anthony’s. He’d trade a cask of blackelderberry-and-applejack wine. And after he drank a bunch and shot up the town a little, he’d wander back to the church to sleep it off. But sometimes, he woke up with a vision, or a prophecy, and they always seemed to come true…Anyway, he predicted the death of this town. His last prophecy. And that’s the one everybody’s talking about.’
“’How’s it go?’
“Slowly Tom rose and sat cross-legged facing the center of their circle. His hands felt moist. His mouth was dry. Tom drooped his eyes so he could wander to the back of his brain. The he started, slow as a death march.
“Blackjack Buck’s in a wine barrel room,
A barrelhouse King who sees all things.
I see days of discord, doom and gloom.
I see a swirling wind.
Under the rays of the rising sun, I see a stranger from the east ride in.
The stranger spurs a great man’s death.
I see Dillontown torn asunder-
Lest the dead man’s secret can be learned
Before the town falls prey to plunder
Oh, the stranger lies between lies and truth,
But the truth lies here, my friends.
A double-cross begins the day,
And by a double loss it ends.” (p. 52-56)
Can this rag-tag team discover the secret of baseball in time to win the game or will Blackjack Buck’s prophecy of doom come true? Read John H. Ritter’s book The Boy Who Saved Baseball to find out.  Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award nominee, 2005-2006

SUBJECTS:  Baseball -- Fiction.
                      California -- Fiction.


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