Many baseball players claim that Satchel Paige was the fastest pitcher in the history of the game. Stosh and his coach, Flip Valentini, are on a mission to find out. With radar gun in tow, they travel back to 1942 and watch Satch pitch to power hitter Josh Gibson in the Negro League World Series. They soon learn that everything about Satch is fast—whether it’s his talking, driving, or getaways. But is he really the fastest pitcher who ever lived?
This baseball card adventure is a whirlwind of excitement, drama, and curveballs—starring one of the liveliest athletes in the game!
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|Series:||Baseball Card Adventure Series|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Lexile:||660L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Satch & Me
By Dan Gutman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Dan Gutman
All right reserved.
Run on Anything
"This guy ain't so fast, stosh," my coach, flip Valentini, hollered. "He can't pitch his way out of a paper bag."
We were at Dunn Field playing the Exterminators, probably the weirdest team in the Louisville Little League. Most of the teams in our league are sponsored by doctors, hardware stores, or banks. Normal businesses, you know? But these guys are sponsored by an exterminator. Whoever heard of a Little League team sponsored by a company that kills bugs?
On the front of their uniforms, the Exterminators have their logo (a squashed ant) and on the back they have their phone number (1-800-GOT-BUGS). It looks really stupid. They even have their own cheer, which they insist on rapping along with a drum machine before they take the field. It goes like this . . .
Stomp 'em! Spray 'em!
That's the way we play 'em!
We send the pests back to their nests!
When we turn the lights on,
It's lights out for YOUUUUUUUU!
Man, I'd be embarrassed if I had to play on that team.
The Exterminators even have a mascot. Before each game, some little kid dressed up like a roach runs out on the field. They call him Buggy. The whole team chases Buggy around the infield. When they catch him, they pretend to beat the crap out of him. Or at least it looks like they're pretending. The mascot is probably the little brother of one of the kids on the team.
It's all very entertaining, and the moms and dads in the bleachers get a big kick out of it. I must admit, even I get a kick out of it.
The thing about the Exterminators, though, is that these guys can flat out play. Usually when a team has a dumb gimmick, that's all they have. They can't hit, can't pitch, can't run, and they can't field. They put on a show because they're no good. But the Exterminators won the Louisville Little League championship last season, and they really know the fundamentals of baseball. They always throw to the right base. They always hit the cutoff man. Their coach must know what he's talking about.
But we're pretty good too. Our team, Flip's Fan Club, is sponsored by a local baseball card shop that's owned by our coach, Flip Valentini. Sponsors don't usually get involved with the team, other than paying for the uniforms and bats and stuff. But to Flip, owning our team is like owning the Yankees. He lives and breathes for us. He's our owner, manager, third base coach, and even our chauffeur if our moms are late or their cars break down.
Our team doesn't do any silly rap songs. But we can play solid baseball, because Flip taught us everything he knows. And believe me, Flip Valentini has forgotten more about baseball than most people ever learn.
Our problem is that the Exterminators have this one kid named Kyle who we nicknamed Mutant Man. Kyle must be some kind of genetic freak. He's only thirteen, like most of us, but he's six feet tall and he's got these long arms. Mutant arms. His arms are so long, it's like he's a different species or something.
Mutant Man doesn't bother with a curveball. He doesn't have a changeup or any other kind of trick pitches. All he's got is his fastball. But he just lets loose and brings it with every pitch. He's a lefty, and when Kyle lets go of the ball, watch out. With those arms, you feel like he's releasing the ball right in front of your face.
It's especially hard for a left-handed batter like me, because the pitch seems like it's coming at you from the first base dugout. Scary. It's almost impossible to stay in the batter's box because the ball looks like it's going to take your head off. Then, while you're bailing out, it shoots across the plate, and the next thing you know the ump is yelling, "Strike three!"
One dominating pitcher can take a team a long way. Kyle the Mutant Man has struck me out a whole bunch of times. He's struck us all out a bunch of times. In fact, we've never beaten the guy. Once, he struck out fifteen of us in six innings. That's just about impossible.
But this time, we had Mutant Man in trouble. It was the bottom of the sixth inning, which is the last inning in our league. The Mutant was shutting us out as usual, but our pitcher, Jason Shounick, had pitched a pretty good game too. He had given up only two runs.
Blake Butler grounded out to second base to start the inning. Tanner Havens fouled off a bunch of pitches, and he finally worked out a walk. I was up, and I represented the tying run.
In case you're not a big baseball fan, when you "represent the tying run," it means that if you can find a way to score, the game will be tied. A homer would be the quickest, simplest way to do it.
But I wasn't even thinking about hitting a homer. No way I was going to take Kyle the Mutant over the wall. I just wanted to get the bat on the ball. If I could push it past one of the infielders and get on base, one of our other guys might be able to drive me and Tanner in. That's all I hoped for. Make something happen. Just make contact.
As I stepped into the batter's box, I was giving myself advice. "Don't bail out," I said. "Don't bail out. Even if it looks like it's going to hit you, stay in there."
I decided not to swing at the first pitch no matter how good it looked. If I could just stay in the batter's box without stepping backward, it would be a small victory.
Excerpted from Satch & Me by Dan Gutman Copyright © 2006 by Dan Gutman. Excerpted by permission.
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