Hello, friends! Our book today is Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen, written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by C.F. Payne, a girl-powered true story of the one of the first female professional baseball players.
On a sunny day in April of 1931, a small minor league team called the Chattanooga Lookouts were preparing for an exhibition game with one of the best major league teams in the country: The New York Yankees. Reporters and fans filled the stands, many to see the Lookouts’ pitcher: Jackie Mitchell. As a little girl, Jackie was told by nearly everyone that girls couldn’t and shouldn’t play baseball – but her father believed in her, as did her neighbor Dizzy Vance (a professional pitcher himself), so they trained her. Jackie practiced relentlessly, and at the age of only seventeen, found herself in front of a jeering crowd, up against one of the most talented ball clubs in history. But what Jackie did next was extraordinary – she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back, stunning the crowd and making baseball history.
Very, very cool. I was vaguely aware of Mitchell, and was pleased to hear about this book when it was recommended to us so that we could learn more (as depressing postscript, Jackie’s success embarrassed many of baseballs higher-ups, and her contract was voided a few days later by the baseball commissioner, who declared the game “too strenuous” for women. Mitchell continued to play for small clubs, but retired six years later, tired of being used as a novelty). The story on its own is uplifting and empowering, and centers on the theme that greatness takes hard work and belief in oneself as well as opportunity. The illustrations are lovely, using a nostalgic, realistic style that fits the humble and determined protagonist. A good length, and JJ was enthralled by the end. An awesome story about an inspiring female athlete, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!
(Thanks to Christine Nault for the recommendation!)