A Million Dollar Baseball Card

May 22, 2011


The past few years, our family has attended the National Sports Collector Convention. I love the history that I learn through the artifacts that are there. My oldest son and husband love the baseball cards, and everyone loves meeting a famous professional athlete.

One memory I have is seeing the famous Honus Wagner T206 card. It has sold at auction forever two million dollars. Amazing that a 1″ x 2″ piece of cardboard could be worth that much! Okay, I know it is history, but it still blows my mind.  In the introduction of the book, some background is given in regards to this famous baseball card. I appreciate the character of Honus. He had the cards pulled from cigarette pacts, because he was concerned that children who were fans might be influenced negatively.

Baseball is the game I’m growing to love. I love watching my sons develop through the game and our daughter in softball. Another baseball lover, Jane Yolen, crafts a wonderful snapshot of the famous baseball player in ALL STAR!: Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever. Jim Burke uses his paintings to create a baseball game setting your mind attaches to.

All Star!: Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card EverHonus was born in Chartiers, Pennsylvania to German immigrants. He went to school through the eighth grade and then began working in the coal mines alongside his father and older brother. He worked loading two tons of coal for 79 cents per day. Honus commented that the work was hard but good exercise. The story continues sharing how Honus worked hard to get into baseball. And when his opportunity arrived, he showed everyone how great of a hitter and short stop he could be.

“Clearly he was a great baseball player…. And he did it all without drugs or fancy training programs or million-dollar incentives – just for the pure love of the game.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for All Star: Honus Wagner:

  • Simile – “legs that looked like large parenthesis
  • Several dependent clauses – in different placed in the sentence
  • Punctuation craft – quotation marks around titles, semi-colon, apostrophe uses
  • Exploding the Moment – rounding the bases to win the game
  • Vignettes – several 1 page short stories about Honus that supported his baseball talent and character



SOL: Dinner Conversation

May 17, 2011

Our family enjoys being together. Supper time is more about hearing each others stories than eating.  Some nights I wonder how we go from one subject to another.

My daughter shared about a class review game. They have been studying the Holocaust and WWII. She was sharing how a peer didn’t seem to get the most obvious answer.

My son responded, “What color of hair does she have?” to which Eliz just rolled her eyes. (She’s sandy blonde and her brothers don’t let her forget it.) My daughter’s eyes were wide with animation, going on with how the boy team seemed to get the easiest questions because of the lack of knowledge on the girl’s team.

That comment sprung a thought from my father-in-law. “You know the lady on ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?’ couldn’t answer a question tonight. The host asked a first grade question about the solar system. If I would have been on the show, I would have asked him to prove that it was a first grade question. It wasn’t any first grade question. Who in the world would know that?” I agreed, but had to squelch a chuckle as my father-in-law would be so bold.

My husband then shared a story about work. We were laughing.   Then because our youngest had shared anything, my husband asked, “So what happened to you today?” which led to a conversation about a backyard football game he had the pleasure of being a part of.

We had a great dinner … conversation. 🙂

A Girl Baseball Pitcher?

May 11, 2011

C.F. Payne illustrations are realistic enough that I feel like I am a spectator in the stands in Might Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen. Marissa Moss leads the reader with a question, engaging you the moment you begin reading.

Jackie Mitchell was a seventeen-year-old-girl who had been throwing baseballs since she could remember. Her father believed in her during a time when girls were to be in the kitchen only.

He told her she could be good at whatever she wanted, as long as she worked at it. And Jackie worked at baseball. She worked hard.”

Marissa uses a flashback technique to begin the story. You are reading about Jackie in present day and then flashback to when she is a little girl, practicing. I love the fact that Marissa Moss threads persistence to a dream throughout the book. Jackie prepared for baseball and believed in herself.

You feel the tense moment in the game between the minor league team, Chattanooga Lookouts versus a top team, the New York Yankees. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were the star hitters; she was a girl. Jackie throws her fast pitches for strikes, surprising the Babe. After striking them both out, the story ends with Jackie proving herself worthy of pitching in the majors, an honor she never receives.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Mighty Jackie: the Strike-Out Queen:

  • Author’s Note – real photograph of Jackie with the rest of her story
  • Grabber lead   – “… something amazing was about to happen.”
  • Transitions with flashbacks
  • Exploding the moment – pitching to Babe Ruth
  • Magic of 3 – with sentences
  • Close Echo or repeating phrase – “to see only the all, to feel only the ball

SOL: Baseball Lingo

May 10, 2011

As I sit watching my sons play baseball, the baseball chatter catches my ears. I began to write down comments the coaches, the players, the opponents were saying. From the simple, batter up to keep firing to know what you want, Ah take a step to round it lookin. It is rather amusing. For me, my listening comprehension has been challenged.  Last year, I wrote a slice as a poem. How many of the following baseball lingo do you know?

Box ’em up

Atta kid

Squeeze the zone

Eat it!

Bear down

Another step

Level swing

Let’s go, 2-1!

BASEBALL code at it’s best!

SOL: a Wheelchair to the Rescue

May 3, 2011

My youngest son twisted his ankle on Friday. Although sore, he went to baseball practice for two hours on Saturday. While at practice, a helmet-first-slide into his stone-wall-catch caused a large bruise on his shin. His foot hurt more as he limped into the house.

On Sunday, baseball beckoned him again. This time, the running created a “pop” in his foot. His foot swelled. By Monday morning, he could barely put any pressure on it. After x-rays, the doctor pronounced he has a serious sprain in his foot – and no running for the week.

Heading to school on crutches today, the pain bothered him. The school nurse is a friend, so I emailed later in the day. Her reply made me chuckle. “His arms were getting sore, so I loaned him the wheelchair. He seems to be doing fine. Tim has 3 or 4 pretty girls wheeling him around and carrying his books.”

The wheelchair came to his rescue.  It eased his pain.  Tim’s already thinking that he needs to use the wheelchair again tomorrow. Besides, how could he resist the female attention?

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

May 2, 2011

I love Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. The book has many possibilities. Kevin Henkes packs so many craft moves into this book.  It was one of the first books introduced to me during my Writer’s Workshop training.  I use it as a mentor text in the primary grades.

Kevin Henkes molds an everyday event into a story of forgiveness and restoration. Lilly is a young student who embraces school. She loves the activities and adores her teacher. Mr. Slinger creates an environment of fun and creativity. I love how Kevin Henkes highlights writing and drawing by have a learning station in the classroom. Lilly writes stories of her beloved teacher. One highlighted scene shows Lilly writing her story and saying, “I’m an author!”

Kevin portrays the child-like quality of impatience through Lilly. She has a new purple plastic purse that played music. Her glasses were like Mr. Slingers and her quarters jingled.  She wanted to show her classmates her wonderful, new possessions. Giving in to temptation, Lilly interrupted class to show everyone.

When Mr. Slinger asks for her things, Lilly’s emotions change from sad to furious. She secretly draws a picture of her teacher in an untasteful way. Unknowingly, her teacher writes a note of encouragement and gentle expectation, slipping it into her purse. With forgiveness displayed, Lilly learns a valuable lesson of the power of words.

Savorings for reading and in writing for Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse:

  • Alliteration – “curly and crunch and cheesy
  • Letter writing/Notes – teaches young children the power of an audience
  • Magic of 3 – using sentences, phrases, and words in groups of threes
  • Speech Bubbles
  • Repeating Line
  • Emotions – “Lilly’s stomach lurched.”
  • Everyday happening – trouble at school; feelings of regret