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The Pitcher Paperback – Sept. 1 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 247 ratings

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Product description

Review

Publishers Weekly
While ostensibly a contemporary baseball story, Hazelgrove’s expansive fifth novel also tackles issues of class, immigration law, and inequity. Thirteen-year-old Ricky Hernandez has a 75 mph pitch and dreams of making the freshman baseball team in Jacksonville, Fla., as the first step toward a professional career. He’s dyslexic, of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, and is ceaselessly taunted by his peers, led by a kid named Eric with an inside track to making the team. While most of Ricky’s teammates can afford sports camp and private lessons, he and his mother are broke due to his abusive father’s lack of financial support and his mother’s mounting medical bills. Despite her deteriorating health, she has loads of attitude, brains, and charm. She singlehandedly persuades their neighbor,
The Pitcher, who played in the World Series, to set aside his beer, leave his garage, and coach Ricky.
Hazelgrove (Rocket Man) measures out a generous sprinkling of American idealism while weaving in legitimate threads of sorrow, employing the oft-usedbaseball metaphor to fresh and moving effect. Adult characters are particularly well-crafted, giving the book crossover potential. --Cevin Bryerman, Publisher / Vice President, www.publishersweekly.com

The Pitcher is a Junior Library Guild Selection
""Readers will be rooting for underdog Ricky every time he steps onto the mound and tries to control his wild pitch. With tense moments, unexpected twists, and a few humorous and joyful reprieves, Hazelgrove's writing reflects the dramatic arc of a baseball game. Will appeal to baseball players and fans, as well as anyone who has experienced the intensity of tryouts or a high-stakes game."" ---
Junior Library Guild

School Library Journal Review of The Pitcher
""Ricky Hernandez has dreamed of pitching ever since, at nine years old, he astounded the grown-ups with his throwing speed at a carnival game. Now almost 14, he’s still got the speed, but has never learned to control his pitches. His mom is his biggest fan, and she scrapes together enough for him to play on a youth league team and acts as its assistant coach. But in affluent Jacksonville, Florida, where the other rising freshmen attend elite sport camps and have personal coaches, Ricky and his mom know that he needs more if he’s going to have any chance at the high school team. His reclusive neighbor is rumored to be Jack Langford, the winning pitcher of the 1978 World Series, so Maria begins her campaign to enlist him as Ricky’s coach, but the Pitcher wants no part of it. He has spent the years since his wife died holed up in his garage with beer and cigarettes and ESPN. But Maria is tenacious, and he agrees reluctantly to help her son. The beauty of this story is that there is no sudden epiphany for Ricky when the Pitcher steps in. Langford is impatient and intolerant and sometimes drinks too much. Ricky is used to struggling academically because he can’t stay focused, and lets himself believe that this same lack of concentration is going to keep him from ever being a good pitcher. The other players pick up on his insecurities and use racial slurs to get under his skin at games. Hazelgrove is skilled at creating fully fleshed-out characters, and the dialogue carries the story along beautifully. While there is plenty of sports action, The Pitcher is ultimately about relationships, and the resolution and personal growth of the characters will appeal to a wide audience."" ---
Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

KIRKUS REVIEW
""Hazelgrove knits a host of social issues into a difficult but believable tale in which junior high---age Ricky has a gift: He can throw a mean fastball.
Although the story opens with triumph---young Ricky surprises and impresses a carnival barker with his pitching---success generally proves elusive for this son of undocumented immigrants. With an abusive, mostly absent father and racially motivated bullying by teammates and adults, it’s not just Ricky’s pitching in need of a change-up. His supportive, spitfire, Latina mother is seriously ill and without health insurance, his goal of making the high school team is increasingly unlikely, and the litany of obstacles appears otherwise unending. Class issues? Check. Dyslexia? You bet. But Ricky’s first-person voice is entertaining and unflinching; when a drunk, ex-pro pitcher offers surprising assistance, the youngster notes that “we are equipped to handle all the bad shit, you know. But good things are a little trickier.” Given the gritty portrayal of can’t-catch-a-break lives and the cruelty and kindness of people young and old, sophisticated readers might balk at a somewhat implausible solution when Ricky is thrown one final curve before tryouts. But no one will really mind---this kid deserves a break.
An engaging, well-written sports story with plenty of human drama---this one is a solid hit.""

THE PITCHER is destined to become a classic. It is well-written, funny, heart-warming, engaging, easy to read, romantic and uplifting. On the surface this story may seem to be all about baseball and pitchers, but it’s more than that. THE PITCHER, a Junior Library Guild Selection, is about a loving and determined Hispanic mother who will endure anything and survive everything for the love of her child and his right to fulfill his dreams; it’s about overcoming prejudice and poverty; it’s about second chances; and most of all, it’s about learning to believe in yourself.
Latina Book Club http://www.latinabookclub.com

From the Back Cover

14-year-old Ricky Hernandez is about to enter high school and wants a spot on the school baseball team. The problem is his wild pitching arm. He can throw super fast but he has no control over it. Just like he has no control over his ex-father who continues to barge in and steal what little money they have; nor his grandmother’s fears of deportation; nor the rival pitcher who continually bullies him; nor his mother’s deteriorating ill health. Ricky longs for some helpful tips from another pitcher, like a World Series pitcher and MVP Jack Langford, who just happens to live next door, but Jack wants to be left alone. In fact, all anybody ever sees are his feet at the bottom of the garage door which is always down.

However, Jack doesn’t count on Maria Hernandez. She is a dynamo and will not take no for an answer, even if it means confronting a curmudgeon in his man-cave and forcing him into the light. Yet even with the MLB pitcher finally coaching him, Ricky can’t seem to find his zone. And when his mother’s health takes a turn for the worse nothing seems to matter anymore and certainly not some stupid baseball game. But Maria will not let him quit and from her hospital bed she encourages her son to prove himself and win. There is the obligatory “win this one for the coach” scene, but it rings true. And the ending is inspiring and joyful as any reader could wish.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Koehler Books (Sept. 1 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 252 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1938467590
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1938467592
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 363 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 14.99 x 2.03 x 22.61 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 247 ratings

About the author

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William Hazelgrove is the National Bestselling author of ten novels and seven nonfiction titles. His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly Kirkus, Booklist, Book of the Month Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards Junior Library Guild Selections, Literary Guild Selections, History Book Club Selections and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today, The Smithsonian Magazine, and other publications and has been featured on NPR All Things Considered. The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, CSPAN, USA Today have all covered his books with features. His books Tobacco Sticks, (represented by Joel Gotler) The Pitcher, Real Santa, and Madam President have been optioned for screen and television rights. His book Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson is currently in development. The option on The Pitcher was fully executed when the script was approved. He has four forthcoming books. Sally Rand American Sex Symbol, Morristown The Kidnapping of George Washington. The Brilliant Con of Cassie Chadwick. One Hundred and Sixty Minutes, the Race to Save the Titanic.

http://www.williamhazelgrove.com

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
247 global ratings

Top reviews from Canada

Reviewed in Canada on February 2, 2015
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Reviewed in Canada on November 9, 2013

Top reviews from other countries

Gabriel
4.0 out of 5 stars Pitching 101
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 30, 2016
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Zelia Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for teen baseball lover!
Reviewed in the United States on January 23, 2021
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Arthur L. Hellyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful!!
Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2013
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RDB
1.0 out of 5 stars Be aware - Bad language
Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2021
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W. S. Klavon
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, powerful, and heart-felt
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2013
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