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Willie & Me by Dan Gutman (2015)


Willie & Me
by Dan Gutman
HarperCollins, 2015
176 pages

Most baseball fans are familiar with “the shot heard ’round the world.” Bobby Thomson launched a Ralph Branca pitch for a home run in 1951 to win the pennant for the New York Giants, while rookie Willie Mays watched from the on-deck circle. Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Thomson walked, and Mays came to bat? Dan Gutman explores that possibility in his latest “Baseball Card Adventure” book, featuring time-traveling fourteen-year old Joe Stoshack.

Those familiar with Gutman’s previous “Baseball Card Adventure” books know that Stosh always has the best intentions when he travels to the past, looking to right some wrong or prevent some tragedy. He has visited Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ray Chapman, Roberto Clemente, and Jackie Robinson, among other legendary characters in the story of baseball’s history. Willie & Me is the twelfth and (unfortunately) finally installment in the series, and for the first time a living player is the titular character. However, Mays does not play a major role in this book himself, unlike former “Baseball Card Adventures.” He is featured very briefly, but because of Stosh’s interference with the game in 1951, history changes when Stosh returns home. Distraught by the changes, he decides he must change history again, returning to 1951 a second time.

The series is written for a younger audience, primarily boys aged 8-12, but adult baseball fans who enjoy time travel fantasy will get a kick out of these books as well. Gutman does an excellent job in describing the era to which his young character travels, and is faithful (for the most part) to baseball history in his stories. I am sad to see this series end, but have truly enjoyed traveling through time with Joe Stoshack on his adventures.

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