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Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares (2015)


Growing Up Pedro
by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, 2015
40 pages

Following excellent books about Hank Aaron and Ted Williams, the latest subject of a Matt Tavares children’s baseball biography is new Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Tavares tells young readers the story of a young boy who grew up watching his brother Ramon Martinez pitch in the Dominican Republic, dreaming of playing together in the major leagues. The author and illustrator follows Pedro’s journey pitching with his brother in Los Angeles, to becoming the best pitcher in baseball in Montreal, to a World Championship in Boston.

Tavares is in top form as his illustrations help tell the story of one of the greatest pitchers of the past thirty years. The book is aimed toward 8-12 year olds, and the text is certainly written on that level, but the artwork can be appreciated by baseball fans of any age. Tavares’ illustrations perfectly depicts Pedro’s intensity.

Learn more about Matt Tavares.

Learn more about Candlewick Press.

Purchase Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares.


Up, Up, & Away by Jonah Keri (2014)

Up Up and Away by Jonah Keri Montreal Expos

Up, Up, & Away
by Jonah Keri
Random House Canada, 2014
416 pages

It has been ten years since Montreal has fielded its own baseball team; following the 2004 season the Expos became the Washington Nationals. In the thirty-six years that the Expos existed, though, they boasted some big names, including two Hall of Famers (Gary Carter and Andre Dawson) and several other superstars (Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker). There is a lot of nostalgia for baseball in Montreal, despite pathetic attendance to games during the final seasons.

Much of that nostalgia is captured by author Jonah Keri in Up, Up, & Away. Keri begins by telling the history of how the game came to Montreal and the struggles of the first several years as an expansion club. Up, Up, & Away really gets good in the 1980s, though, as Keri begins to tell the story of the Expos through a young fan’s eyes, pleading the case for Raines as a should-be Hall of Famer, recounting the exciting pennant races (which the team never won, save 1981), and the devastating cancellation of the latter part of the 1994 season, in which Montreal seemed destined to win it all. Keri examines the reasons that Montreal lost the Expos, from poor leadership to poor publicity to a possible conspiracy by Major League Baseball.

The story of the Expos is disheartening. A team with so much promise, so much potential, that never prevails. Up, Up, & Away ends on a high note, reporting that a feasibility study showed Montreal’s economy could once again support a big league club. But even if a new team took up roots in the city, it could never replace the Expos in the hearts and minds of Montrealers.

Learn more about Random House Canada.

Purchase Up, Up, & Away by Jonah Keri.

Happy birthday Rusty Staub! (with a few “fun card” submissions)

1972 Topps Staub

Today is April 1st, but I don’t have a joke to tell you. It is also Rusty Staub‘s birthday, and thanks to TWJ contributor Patrick, I have a few “fun cards” to share.

1972 Topps Traded Staub

In 1972 and 1973, Staub did not appear in any Topps products due to some sort of disagreement. No base cards, no Traded card to mark his move from Montreal to Queens, nothing. Thanks to the internet and customized baseball cards, fans have plenty of options to print out and slide into their 1972 and 1973 binders. And now, they have three more options.

1973 Topps Staub

I’m a bit biased, but I like the cards here a bit more than what is already out there. Thanks for the submission, Patrick, and happy birthday, Rusty Staub!

This totally just made my day (@DelinoSr)

Go to Delino DeShieldsTwitter profile. Recognize the background?

I made that “fun card” in August, 2010. Here’s the original. Not much wordage on that post…but it still makes me feel old.

DeShields is currently the manager for the Dayton Dragons, the Reds’ Class A affiliate that regularly sells out games. I haven’t visited Dayton for a game yet, but I would like to change that this season if the budget allows.

DeShields, Jr., played for the Astros’ Class A affiliate Lexington Legends last year. Had I known that, I would have tried to go down for a game. Travel time to Dayton is about the same as Lexington, just in different directions.

R.I.P. Gary Carter

(April 8, 1954 – February 16, 2012)

I don’t like doing “R.I.P.” posts, especially when the subject entertained me when I was young. Gary Carter, Hall of Fame catcher best known for his time with the Montreal Expos and New York Mets, passed away today.

Gypsy Queen – Pete Rose

It’s Sunday…let’s post two!

A pair of Pete Rose customs from his days in Philly and Montreal.

eBay bargains (part deux)

The listing was simple. The title: “TWO PETE ROSE cards #424 & #12.” The description: “Here are two insert cards of pete rose, so if you wont them just help cover the cost of the shiping and there yours, shiping is about .70 cents.” The picture included with the auction:

I didn’t know if the ’69 was a reprint, or the original, or if I would even receive the cards if I won. And I had no idea what the other card was at all. The seller had a 100% positive feedback, but surely he wasn’t just giving away old Pete Rose cards, was he? I decided it was worth the risk.

I ended up winning the auction at $1.62 (free shipping) and they came in the mail today. Lo and behold, it is a 1969 Pete Rose All-Star card, not a reprint!

The second card is pretty interesting, too. It seems to be an advertisement for Barry Halper auctions from 1999, which included Pete’s Expos uniform worn when he collected hit #4000 and a Ray Fosse baseball bat signed by Pete.

All in all, I think it was a great purchase for the low price of $1.62.

Fun Cards: 1985 Topps “Father/Son” Delino Deshields

Does this make anyone else feel old?

Whatever happened to Wayne Krenchicki?

Wayne Krenchicki is a former major league ballplayer who played with the Orioles, Reds, Tigers, and Expos in the 1970s and 80s. He was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 8th round in 1972, but did not sign. Four years later the Orioles selected Krenchicki in the 7th round. This time, Wayne put his John Hancock on a contract.

After a few years in Baltimore, Krenchicki was sent to Cincinnati to complete a trade for Paul Moskau in 1982. Wayne spent the 1982 season and part of 1983 with the Reds, but was shipped off to Detroit for Pat Underwood. Cincinnati management decided they wanted ol’ Wayne back, though, so in November they purchased his contract from Detroit. Krenchicki played all of 1984 and 1985 with the Reds, but was once again sent away prior to the 1986 season. This time, though, he was involved in a trade of real value. The Reds received future Nasty Boy Norm Charlton from the Expos as a part of the deal.

Krenchicki played 101 games for Montreal in 1986, his last big league season. So what has Wayne been up to for all these years?

In 1989 and 1990, Krenchicki played in the Senior Professional Baseball Association. After that league folded, Wayne was hired by the Brewers as a minor league instructor from 1991-1994. Since 1995 he has managed a number of independent minor league teams, including the 2007 Atlantic League champions Newark Bears.

Currently, Krenchicki can be found calling the plays for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League.

It is great that a person can make a living by doing something he truly loves, something that many others do purely for recreation. To play in the big leagues is a huge accomplishment, and to become a manager after your playing days are over is awesome. But really, does any of that justify grading a Wayne Krenchicki baseball card?

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