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The Magic Baseball (e-book)
"My name is Jimmy Johnson," says a 9-year-old boy at the start of this exciting story. The Magic Baseball solves the biggest baseball riddle -- how Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the 1956 World Series... a baseball secret unknown until now!
The story has a crucial 'what if' - what would have happened if - if only Jimmy Johnson hadn't forgotten to - but I'm getting ahead of myself. You'll enjoy this adventure... a great story for boys, teenagers, their Dads and Granddads! The perfect gift for young readers.
(also available in paperback, as the first story in Triple Play)
Read the sample text...
then get The Magic Baseball ebook from Amazon Kindle ...only $3.99!
----- Contents ------
My name is Jimmy Johnson
Pants on fire
Up to bat
The Magic Baseball, chapter 1
My name is Jimmy Johnson
When I was nine I did something that changed baseball history. This is the first time I have ever told anyone about what I did. See, when I was eight, it was 1956, and I guess I can finally tell what happened, now that it's fifty years later. What I'm going to tell you, some would say it's magic, but you judge for yourself.
That summer, we moved to the country, to a little frame house near the old steel mill. I missed my old neighborhood in the city. When I started school that September, I went for walks by myself because I didn't have any friends yet.
Up past the mill, the Delaware river ran wide and smooth, under the large leafy green overhanging trees. Days were still warm, and I walked along a path by the bank, pushing through the end-of-summer brambles and branches. That's where I first saw the mud man. He was an old man with white hair, crouched down by the water's edge, washing something in the river.
"What are you doing?" I asked. I've been curious about people all my life, which is mostly good, but now and then, like that day when I was nine, I probably should've kept my mouth shut.
"Washing baseballs," said the old man.
"Washing baseballs?" I laughed. "That's funny!"
Well, that was the wrongest thing he could've said, because I knew a lot about baseball, even back when I was nine. So I told him all about how I went to see the Senators play, when we lived in Washington, and how it looked like the Yankees and the Dodgers would be in the Series again in October.
"Shows what you know, kid," he said. "You don't know much about baseball, do you?"
"And I really hate the Yankees," I said. "Even if they do have the best team."
The old man nodded his head. They're good," he said. "Hard to get past Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle. You live around here?"
"On the other side of the mill. We just moved in."
He looked at me, considering. "My name's Russell Blackburne. They call me 'Lena'. You want a real job for two weeks?" he asked. "I've got a whole lot of baseballs to fix up fast. You get twenty-five cents a day, show up here after school, work 'til about five."
A real job! "What do I have to do?" I asked.
"Same thing I do," he said. "You take a brand-new baseball, like this --" he reached into a large flat gray box, and held up a shiny white ball with bright red stitching. "Then you smear mud all over it, like this --" and he picked up a handfull of wet gooey brown mud and smeared it all over the ball. "Then, you wash it off in the river." He swished the ball to and fro in the water, and held it up.
"It's not shiny anymore," I said.
"Exactly!" he exclaimed. "Kid, that's what it's all about. The mud scuffs up that shiny new cowhide. Matter of fact, you can't play this game 'til that ball's been scuffed up good with mud. Not just any mud, either! Only mud that works is from right here, from this very spot."
"But why?" I asked. "It doesn't look good anymore."
"But it plays good after it's been rubbed with the mud. See, kid, this goes way back, to 1920, when Carl Mays beaned Ray Chapman, and Chapman died a day later. After that, the umpires started spitting tobacco juice on the ball, to rough it up. If you don't scuff up that new cowhide, you have no idea where that ball's gonna go! Might go high! Might go low! Or it might hit the batter, like poor Ray Chapman! So I heard the umpires complain. All the time, they really hated having to spit tobacco juice on the balls--"
"You were in the big leagues?" I asked in awe.
"Yeah, sure was. And back in the 1930s, I was coachin' for Connie Mack and the Athletics, and one day it hit me that I lived near this river, and maybe the mud might work as well as the tobacco juice. Been sellin' it ever since, every year, regular as rain."
"Do you have to wash all the baseballs?" I asked.
"No," he said. "During the season, I just send 'em mud. Team'll go through three-four pounds of it, each year. But for the Series, they want me to wash all the balls myself. That way it's fair. I do 'em all the same color, to keep it fair. Else one team would probably keep washing them 'til they get dark brown, which makes it harder on the hitters."
"Only one thing," he went on. "This spot's secret. You can't ever tell anyone else about it."
Out on the river, the sun was getting low and you could see the fish jumping here and there to catch bugs. I had to get home before it got dark.
"I'll keep the secret," I said. "Cross my heart and hope to die. When can I start?"
"Tomorrow, after school," said 'Lena' Blackburne. "If'n it's OK with your folks."
Get The Magic Baseball ebook from Amazon Kindle ...only $3.99!
Questions? e-mail Jon Donahue firstname.lastname@example.org