Jackie & Me by Dan Gutman (1999)
Jackie & Me
by Dan Gutman
I love baseball cards, and I love stories about time travel. Write a book about a kid who can travel through time using baseball cards, and you’ve got me hooked.
Joe Stoshack is a mostly regular kid living in modern-day Louisville, Kentucky, but when he touches a baseball card he can travel through time to the year the card was made. Dan Gutman has written about several of Joe’s adventures, including meetings with Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, and Babe Ruth. In this book, Gutman’s second in the “Baseball Card Adventures” series, Joe travels back to 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.
Not only that, Joe often changes his appearance in his travels. In this particular instance, he wakes up to find that he has transformed into a black kid in 1947! Gutman tinkers with a few historical facts and changes the order of some events to fit the story. For instance, he describes Dixie Walker passing around a petition on the first day of the season to be traded if Robinson is allowed to play for the Dodgers. That actually happened, but not on opening day; Walker circulated his petition in spring training.
Joe learns a valuable lesson, not only about the racism that Robinson faced, but about Robinson’s character in his response to that hatred. Of course, he applies that lesson in his own life when he returns to Louisville.
While written for children (recommended for ten years and older), these are entertaining books even for adult baseball fans. They are light reads and shouldn’t take more than a few sittings to finish–if you can even put it down.