"Brooklyn Bat Boy, by Geoff Griffin, is a fabulous historical fiction book about a boy named Bobby Kelly. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1940s, when America is still segregated.
Bobby is caught goofing off in Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers play, with some of his friends, and he takes the blame. He gets sent to Branch Rickey’s office and Rickey, the Dodgers’ manager, asks him to be the team’s new bat boy.
Of course, since Bobby is the biggest Dodgers fan in his town, he accepts the offer. The year is 1947. What is so special about that year? It is the year in which Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
In Bobby’s neighborhood, many people are racist and do not think that African-Americans should be playing in the major leagues. Some of Bobby’s friends tease him about having to pick up after a black man, something that was unheard of in this time.
Because of this, and many others comments made by people in Bobby’s neighborhood, Bobby does not know how to act towards Robinson. Should he treat him the same way he treats all of the other players? Should he ignore him and not collect his equipment?
As Bobby begins his job, he starts to realize that Robinson is just like all of the other players. After Bobby gets into a fight at school defending Robinson, Rickey must think of an appropriate punishment. Rickey decides on the only fitting thing: make Bobby pay more attention to Robinson than to all of the other players.
Bobby begins to get to know Robinson better. Instead of rooting against him, Bobby begins to root for him. I think that this book teaches readers about the importance of not jumping to conclusions about someone just because of what they have heard or because of what they look like. I would recommend this book for baseball and history lovers between the ages of 10 and 13."
-Riley Neubauer, Sports Illustrated for Kids
"Bobby Kelly is a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy who loves playing stickball in the street with his friends and cheering for the Dodgers. Bobby's dream of being part of the Dodgers comes true in 1947 when he lands the job of bat boy for the team. There's just one thing Bobby's not sure about. The Dodgers are planning to do something that has never been done before. An African-American named Jackie Robinson will be playing for Brooklyn. Bobby isn't sure how to feel about it, especially since members of his family and kids in his neighborhood don't like the idea. In order to truly become part of the Dodgers, Bobby will have to learn to accept Robinson as a member of the team and learn from his example. This fictional story looks at an important point in baseball history from a young person's perspective and highlights the time period, including using popular slang from the East Coast in the 1940s. "Brooklyn Bat Boy" by Geoff Griffin will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library General Fiction collections. For the personal reading lists of young baseball history enthusiasts it should be noted that "Brooklyn Bat Boy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99)."
-Midwest Book Review
"After reading a couple of duds lately I was excited to read a book that grabbed my attention, was short enough that I read it this morning, and yet had a good plot and message.
After getting caught sneaking into the Dodgers infield, Bobby is given the opportunity to be the bat boy for the team. But it is 1947 and Jackie Robinson has just joined the team. Bobby doesn't know how to react when all around him people are calling Jackie names, his friend are teasing him, his dad tells him to be careful, and even Jackie's teammates aren't very welcoming. Slowly, Bobby begins to see how Jackie Robinson is helping the team.
A great glimpse into what this time might have been like for a young fan of the game. It of course shows the prejudice of the time but highlights a boy's path to discovery without being overly preachy.
There will definitely be comparisons to Sharon Robinson's The Hero Two Doors Down which also comes this year. I have an arc of that as well and hope to read it this weekend while this one is still fresh.
I enjoyed this..."
-Reading by the Pond
"I'm an elementary school library teacher and am excited to share this book with my students. I was pleasantly surprised! I didn't expect to like the book as much as I did because I have zero interest in baseball (football, yes...baseball, no) but the author sucked me into the story with the passion that the characters had for the game. I loved learning about the historical aspect of the story and the richness of the setting developed by the authentic language, description of stickball, and a "feel" for Brooklyn. Loved the moral lessons in the book too!
I always figure that one of the hallmarks of a good historical fiction book is one that makes me want to do more research on the subject. And this book made me do just that!"
"New author Geoff Griffin comes to the literary table with his first work of fiction, and the release for this book could not be more timely. Geoff is a lawyer, a special education teacher, journalist and editor, having years of experience writing for a variety of newspapers and magazines. He has had a number of essays published in anthologies and is co-host of the award-winning Travel Brigade Radio Show and Podcast. Perhaps it is this connection to journalism and sensitivity to racism that makes him such an appropriate writer to honor the chief character of this book. Sports heroes abound now with every detail of their lives scrutinized by the media. But for all the famous African American sport stars that glamorize Football, baseball, the Olympics, basketball and hockey the one who is honored as the initiator of change is Jackie Robinson.
Geoff knows how to bring the tenor of the times in mid 20th century America to life and he employs the language, the slang, the epithets, the racial views as well as the dream world of young kids of the era with such finesse that we feel as though we, too, have been transported to that time, those events, and those major changes.
Geoff’s synopsis of the story would be difficult to improve upon: ‘Bobby Kelly is a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy who loves playing stickball in the street with his friends and cheering for the Dodgers. Bobby’s dream of being part of the Dodgers comes true in 1947 when he lands the job of batboy for the team. There’s just one thing Bobby’s not sure about. The Dodgers are planning to do something that has never been done before. An African-American named Jackie Robinson will be playing for Brooklyn. Bobby isn’t sure how to feel about it, especially since members of his family and kids in his neighborhood don’t like the idea. In order to truly become part of the Dodgers, Bobby will have to learn to accept Robinson as a member of the team and learn from his example. This fictional story looks at an important point in baseball history from a young person’s perspective and highlights the time period, including using popular slang from the East Coast in the 1940s.’
In Geoff’s notes at book’s end he offers the following: ‘While Jackie Robinson’s historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 actually happened, and many of the characters included in this book were real people, Brooklyn Bat Boy is a work of fiction. The character of Bobby Kelly is fictitious as are all of his interactions with the real people in the book, such as Jackie Robinson. The terms “Negro” and “colored” are used in the book because they were terms that would have commonly been used in 1947. These terms are considered offensive today.’
And so we have a well-written novel, a thoughtful examination of a major event in racial relations, and a flavor of a time that transports us in many ways."
"Brooklyn Bat Boy: A Story of the 1947 Season that Changed Baseball Forever by Geoff Griffin is about a 12 year old boy named Bobby Kelly who loves baseball and the Dodgers.
When he gets the ultimate chance of a lifetime to be their bat boy, he is thrilled but along comes Jackie Robinson who is set to play with the Dodgers. Not everyone is so happy about this monumental moment in history so what will Bobby do?
This was an interesting book that not only told a story but also one set in history. The only issue I have at all is that it is very short. It's still a good story but some people who have liked to have read more. With that being said, it was good and I enjoyed this quick read."
"Written with a true Brooklyn “vibe”, the story of a 1947 Brooklyn Bat Boy as he encounters Jackie Robinson and comes to terms with the fact that a African American will now be playing in the Major Leagues; is a great tale, chock full of history, grit, humor and an inner struggle to accept changes in the way life was back then.
Bobby, a 12 year old boy and life long Dodgers fan, sneaks into the Baseball stadium with two of his friends. When they are caught, he takes responsibility for their conduct and thusly impresses the Dodgers Owner who offers him a job as a Bat Boy for the upcoming Season.
I think this book is extremely well written, I was recently watching the movie about Robinson, so I had a comparison fresh in my mind. The pacing, writing style and plot were well fleshed out and extremely well put together. Even though I was already familiar with this topic, I did not feel like the story was rehashing known history, the author truly did a good job of viewing this time period from a fresh new perspective. A great story."
“Brooklyn Bat Boy: A Story of the 1947 Season that Changed Baseball Forever” is Geoff Griffin’s novel that is entirely immersed in baseball and has some historical aspects added in as well. Baseball isn’t the first sport I would pick to read a book about, but the passion was something that drew me in. I am not entirely familiar with all of the slang that was from the 1940s time period, so I was a little slow at first, but everything starts to slide in to place as you keep on reading. The story revolves around Bobby who is able to get a front line view point of the chaos and drama that is involved with Jackie Robinson being added to the Dodgers roster. Even if you aren’t into baseball, this book has more incorporated into the storyline than just that, so it is great for all readers. I enjoyed reading it and I truly enjoyed the passion that Bobby had for the game and the people he interacted with."
"Truly a wonderful book for a middle elementary reader. I am a classroom teacher, and this will be a book that I share with my students each year. It does well to address pertinent racial issue in a healthy manner for discussion with children in a classroom setting. The author also clearly did his research to give the historical context and accurate picture. Students will love and benefit from having the opportunity to interact and engage with this text."