Tom Gallagher is in a jam, and it's largely of his own making. Tom's friend, elderly Doc Altenheimer, can't decide whether or not to sell his ranch to developers. When Tom points out how much he and his neighbors value the hilly desert community on the outskirts of San Diego especially the century-old ballpark built by miners Doc's response is totally unexpected. Now, the future of Dillontown rests squarely on the shoulders of young Tom and his fellow teammates: if they can beat a group of 12-year-old baseball all-stars, they get to keep their precious hills. If they lose, they'll get tract housing and traffic. And they've only got a week to prepare! Writer John H. Ritter has penned a story that cheerfully upends the conventions of children's sports novels. Instead of the expected team of misfits, in The Boy Who Saved Baseball, the kids tasked with trying to save their way of life along with their beloved baseball diamond are surprisingly normal. Tom is smart and shy, his best friend Frankie is boisterous and silly, and Frankie's cousin (and their first baseman), Maria, is tall, athletic and pretty a fact that grows uncomfortably on Tom as the book progresses. Dillontown itself is full of eccentrics, from the local poet who's out of his tree (literally!), to the mayor and his greedy banker friend, to the parents who parade out to the field to watch practice and serve up tortillas and beans.

Even with Tom's father as coach, the prospects of defeating the all-stars look dim that is, until young Cruz de la Cruz rides into town with a baseball bat stuck in his saddle. He's got a plan, and he needs Tom's help. Up in the mountains outside of town lives Dante Del Gato, one of the greatest hitters that ever lived. If they can get the reclusive slugger to help them, they might just have a chance at victory.

Fun and funny, full of surprises and baseball lore, John H. Ritter's The Boy Who Saved Baseball is an entertaining read for any sports fan in your family. Take a swing at it. James Neal Webb is a long-suffering Boston Red Sox fan.

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