Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Kid Who Batted 1.000

When my younger brother Dave and I were but wee lads (he's four years younger, but I was [am?] equally immature), we liked to read baseball books for kids.  Biographies (Gehrig, Ruth), novels (The Kid Comes Back by John R. Tunis was one of my favorites)--even joke books (Straw-Berras and Cream and Curveball Laughs we both liked.)

One of Dave's favorites was a tiny tome called The Kid Who Batted 1.000, by Bob Allison and Frank Ernest Hill.  (You can still get this 1951 masterpiece on Amazon!  And a first printing on ABE goes for $150.)  Kid told the story of a ... kid named Dave King, whose ambition is to raise chickens.  He has the ability to hit baseballs foul--and he's invented a salve made of chicken fat.

Well, the Chicks are a cellar-dwelling major league team with a sore-armed pitcher, Pretzels Litzenberg, who's been sent out into the country to find some new baseball talent.  He finds Dave, who lets him use his salve on his sore arm.  It heals!  He fires some fastballs at Dave--just to see--and the kid fouls them all off.  So, what the hell, he signs him to a contract.  One stipulation: He gets to take with him his pet rooster, Hobomok.

Well, guess what?  The Chicks rally with Dave in the lineup (he walks every time) and streak to the pennant.  Secretly, though, Dave has been practicing hitting fair balls, mostly because baseball purists (and pitchers) are complaining that he's not playing the game the right way.

And with the Series title on the line--in the final game--Dave comes to bat ... hmmmmm, I wonder what will happen?

(Clue: with his Series winnings he buys a big chicken farm.)

Well, what does all of this have to do with anything?

With this: Just yesterday, I sent to Kirkus Reviews my 1000th book review.  One thousand.  My first was in March 1999, a book about the French and Indian War; number 1000 was about a biography of Clarence Birdseye.  And in between?  All sorts of things--from baseball to cooking to literary biography to collections of letters to journals to works on American history, world history, memoirs ... you name it.

I once nabbed a guy who had fabricated his memoir (when the book was eventually published, it no longer said "memoir" on the title; instead, it said "a novel").  That was exciting.

Most of the books I never would have read on my own--and most of them I liked.  (A few duds every year: I especially hate reading tendentious political books, from either side, and ghost-written celebrity memoirs.)  I've had the privilege of reviewing forthcoming books by winners of great prizes--Pulitzer, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle, and even the Nobel.

I start every day with Kirkus--seven days a week.  Early each morning, I sit in coffee shop and read 100 pp. for them, taking notes ...  When I finish, I go home, write the 300-330-wd review and zap it off to my editor.   I don't believe I've ever missed a deadline, but, life being what it is, that could happen tomorrow.  I try not to miss a day--ever.  But if I do, I read 200 the next day.  When I was teaching at WRA, I did one review a week during the school year, then returned to the old 100 pp/day routine over the summer.  Now that I'm retired (again), it's 100 pp/day, every day.

Here's a link to their website--so you can see ... Kirkus website

I just wrote to Kirkus to let them know I'd reached this milestone.  I wondered if I'd get a gold watch or something.  The negative reply came very, very, very quickly.

Maybe if I offered them some chicken salve?

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