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First Pitch: How Baseball Began    by John Thorn order for
First Pitch
by John Thorn
Order:  USA  Can
Beach Ball Books, 2011 (2011)
* * *   Reviewed by Kelly Thunstrom

First Pitch: How Baseball Began by baseball historian John Thorn is a book designed and intended for younger readers who want to know about the backgrounds, the urban legends, and the story behind America's Pasttime. Thorn pays careful attention to detail in writing about the origins of the game of baseball, noting that multiple people have multiple stories about how the game began but that many of them are likely just that ... stories.

The book's audience range is probably geared towards the 4th-5th grade level but an advanced younger reader should have little trouble reading through the thirty-eight page book, some of it illustrated. Coverage is given to the role that women and minorities had in baseball, with a mention of folks like Octavius Catto and Annie Glidden. However, I missed reading about the baseball league for women created during the 1940s, as that was the first national professional league for women. Thorn may have gone too historical in going back to talking about Glidden when a more prominent league was certainly worth mentioning.

In all, the book is short and simple, leaving little doubt that the story of baseball's beginnings has more legend and fiction to it than most would know. Thorn is effective in stating a case, in a kid's point of view, that the game evolved over time into what we know and what many of us love. The book is perfect for tweens who like the game and have a knack for history.

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