The Kid Who Could Only Hit Homers revolves around the titular character Sylvester Coddmyer III, a boy who stinks at baseball. We know he stinks at baseball, because the author spends upwards of two and half whole pages explaining this. He’s all bummed about it, and decides to quit the team. The next day, he’s visited by a creepy old man, George Baruth, some sort of specter of Babe Ruth, who starts training with the kid. The next day — THE NEXT DAY — this kid is belting hits all over the field, and is patrolling the outfield with the grace of Willie Mays. A few warmup games are played, and then it’s time for the season.
At this point, the book took a very good turn for me. By this, I mean that I stopped reading it. I just put it down. It’s a 130-page book about baseball, of which I’m 65 pages into, and I’m refusing to finish it. I’m looking at it now, and I have a stronger desire to remove my fingernails than to read another word. If this book weren’t property of the Hennepin County Library, I would mail this back to the publisher having rubbed my gentleman parts all over every page.
This isn’t about it being a kid’s book. There are good kid’s books out there. My friend makes a living as a children’s author and her books are engaging and deep and thoughtful. Matt Christopher wrote over 130 sports fiction novels for kids. ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY. I’m not a novel writer, but I would expect that even the most prolific and imaginative authors would run out of good narrative after, I don’t know, 80 fucking books?
I get the theme of the everyday kid who turns into something special. That’s a pretty common theme, and can still be played well. But why can’t the kid just get better? Why does a weird ghost have to help him? Why does Sylvester need to be visited by a strange old man who’s a white van away from initiating an Amber Alert? And, maybe it’s just me, but when you pick a famous player for your deus ex machina, perhaps choosing one that was a known boozer, gambler and philanderer isn’t the best idea. The whole premise is just dumb and silly and forced.
It just hit me that I paid $1.75 for a bus fare to go to the library and pick up this book.
I’m sure Dubuque will be upset with my failed attempt, and will probably write something much more insightful and funny about this book, which I’m OK with. This isn’t worth it. I feel like I need to read a Bill James abstract or something to cleanse my palette.
In conclusion: failed experiment. Screw Mike Bates, screw Dubuque, and screw you if you make your kids read this.
Print This Post