Book Preview: The Batboy and the Unbreakable Record
The Batboy & the Unbreakable Record
By Robert Skead
A young boy lands a dream job for the Cincinnati Reds where he becomes witness to a baseball record that is unbreakable. 12-year-old Richie Goodwin doesn't think life can get any worse. His highly competitive nature always makes it difficult for him to make friends and now he must get a job to help his struggling family. When Richie lands a dream job as batboy for the Cincinnati Reds, his troubles continue to brew when he must answer to a bossy Senior Batboy, obey strict rules, and convince the guys at school that he really did land the job. After carelessly disobeying a clubhouse rule, Richie gets fired and now his friends will think he is a liar and phony. Given a second chance Richie must learn to follow the rules as he gets to witness Johnny Vander Meer set a baseball record that might be unbreakable.
Paperback: $14.99 US
On-Sale: November 7, 2023
ISBN: 9781951122706 (paperback) ISBN: 9781951122713 (ebook)
Cover by Dirk Rovich
Interior illustrations by Stephen Colyer
Publisher: Artemesia Publishing’s Kinkajou Press imprint
Extras in Book/Classroom Aids:
Tips to Handle Bullying
Fun Facts About Johnny Vander Meer
Facts vs. Fiction in the story
QR Codes to Vander Meer videos
The story behind the story
Fun Facts about Johnny Vander Meer
· “Someone could tie the record.” Vander Meer once said. “But I don’t think anyone will ever break it.”
· Before the second No Hit game, a retired Babe Ruth, sporting a Reds cap, greeted Vandy in the dugout.
· After Vander Meer completed his second no-hitter, Babe Ruth shouted, “Nice going, kid!”
· Regarding meeting Babe Ruth, Vandy said, “And the Babe was always my idol, believe me, that was the biggest kick of all.”
· Vander Meer struck out 295 batters during a 12-week timeframe as a pitcher for the Durham Bulls (a Cincinnati Reds farm team)—an average of 12.33 per nine-inning game.
· The Sporting News voted Johnny the No. 1 minor league player of the year in 1936.
· As Leo Durocher batted in that last out of the second no-hitter, Vandy threw a one-two fastball that Umpire, Bill Stewart, called ‘a ball.’ When Leo flew out, Stewart was one of the first to congratulate Johnny, saying that he had blown the call and would have been extremely upset had Durocher gotten a hit.
· After that second no-hitter, Johnny Vander Meer continued to pitch without anyone getting a hit off him into the fourth inning of his next start. Vandy pitched 21 2/3 straight innings without allowing a hit.
· Johnny Vander Meer had one base hit in each of his two consecutive no-hit games.
· Ernie Lombardi, the Reds’ catcher, caught Vandy for both no-hit, no-run games, and most certainly his battery partner also deserves credit for the wonderful accomplishment. He, after all, told Vandy what to pitch.
· Johnny won 15 games in 1938, including 10 in a row. It was the best season he ever had.
· Besides “Vandy,” Johnny’s nicknames included: “Double No-Hit” and “The Dutch Master.”
· Both of the teams Vandy beat in his two no-hit games, the Boston Bees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, once owned the contract rights to him.
· Johnny was voted to the All Star team four times.
· “Dad didn’t know much about baseball,” said Vandy. “And was probably the only person in the ballpark who didn’t know I’d set a record. He was wondering what all the fuss was about.”
· “Baseball is all right,” said Vandy’s father. … “Johnny’s always been a good boy and I hope success won’t spoil him. This is the first big league game I ever saw, but not the first no-hit game I’ve seen my boy pitch.”
· “I liked Johnny from the first look I got at him in the spring training camp. I told reporters then that we had the 1938 pitching sensation of the major leagues in Vander Meer. Why, he was knocking the bats right out of the Detroit Tigers’ hands in exhibition games.” Reds Manager Bill McKechnie
· “He’s wicked. Johnny will get better as he goes along. He throws with everything he’s got and that’s plenty…The ball was on me before I could swing.” Joe DiMaggio (after 1938 All Star game)
· Johnny played in the Major Leagues for 13 years. His record was 119-121 with an ERA of 3.44.
· Vandy led the National League in strikeouts three years in a row (1941-43) and finished in the top ten four other times.
· Vandy pitched a third no-hitter on July 15, 1952, for Tulsa in the Texas League beating Beaumont 12-0. He was 37 years old.
· As a teenager, in the sandlots of Paterson, New Jersey, Johnny Vander Meer pitched five no-hitters in one season, three of them consecutively (two for the Midland Park Rangers and one for the Prospects).
· Vandy finished his career playing one year with the Chicago Cubs and one year with the Cleveland Indians.
· Johnny Vander Meer was born on November 2, 1914. He grew up in Midland Park, New Jersey. He died in 1997 at age 82.
Praise for The Batboy & the Unbreakable Record
“Robert Skead touches upon important, extremely relatable themes of teasing and bullying. Skead gives thoughtful examples of ways to handle tough situations in productive and supportive ways. It is a wonderful story of personal growth in adolescence and an action-filled and engaging way to discuss those themes with baseball lovers, children and students in the middle grades.” Annie Mapes, LSW
"Rob Skead conjures a delightful story, combining an historic moment in baseball with life lessons about bullying. Richie’s dream about becoming a batboy for the Reds faces many challenges, but with the help of his parents, his school principal, and the great Johnny Vander Meer, Richie finds himself with a front row seat for one of baseball’s legendary feats, Vander Meer’s consecutive no-hitters." Greg Rhodes, Cincinnati Reds Team Historian
"A unique and inspiring re-telling of the legend of Johnny Vander Meer, Rob Skead brings Vander Meer’s record-setting performance to life through the eyes of a young fan who overcomes numerous challenges to achieve a personal dream. The Bat Boy and the Unbreakable Record is a worthy addition to the baseball libraries of fans of all ages." Chris Eckes, Chief Curator, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum
“The young protagonist of this wonderful historical novella lives out a dream, absorbs nuanced lessons about honesty and empathy, bullying and forgiveness, and is an up-close witness to real and unmatched drama on the ballfield – all in a couple of weeks. Robert Skead conveys compelling and credible detail in characters, dialogue and events while concisely capturing an accomplishment that baseball fans of all ages rightfully marvel over nine decades later.”
William Weinbaum, ESPN journalist
“Some of baseball’s greatest moments are so long in the past they can almost be forgotten. The Bat Boy and the Unbreakable Record tells us the story from a freshly unique perspective of one of those greatest moments in our national pastime. It is heart-warming to see a story like this can be written for us today.”
CF Payne, illustrator and Reds fan
“The Batboy and the Unbreakable Record is a fantastic, engaging, and wonderful book! Rob Skead, a talented storyteller, delivers a terrific account of Johnny Vander Meer's no-hitters as told from the eyes of a young bat boy. A story about baseball, but also a timeless story of friendship and overcoming the odds, this middle-grade book is bound to inspire kids today to reach for their own dreams and to embrace kindness and humility. I loved this story and many others will as well.”
Paul Semendinger, author of New York Yankee Roy White’s biography, former elementary school principal
Robert Skead is the author of several popular children’s books on sports and the American Revolution. He wrote The Batboy and the Unbreakable Record because he vowed to Johnny Vander Meer’s boyhood best friend that he would do everything he could to keep the memory of his friend and his amazing baseball achievement alive. Discover more at www.robertskead.com and www.johnnyvandermeer.com.
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