Review of Contenders:
 Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series

MacNolia Cox and the National Spelling BeeContenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series
by Traci Sorell; illus. by Arigon Starr
Primary    Kokila/Penguin    48 pp.
4/23    9780593496472    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780593406489    $11.99

Baseball’s 1911 World Series was the first to feature a match-up between two Native players. Future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Charles Bender (Ojibwe) would pitch in three of the six games, including the decisive sixth, for the Philadelphia Athletics; while hard-hitting catcher John Meyers (Cahuilla) would be behind the plate for the New York Giants for all six games. Both players were nicknamed “Chief” by the racist press and endured insults and slurs throughout their entire professional careers. Sorell (Cherokee Nation) provides readers with biographical sketches of Bender and Meyers, tracing their childhoods and divergent paths to professional baseball before diving back into the game-by-game highlights of the thrilling 1911 championship series. Starr (Kickapoo Tribe of ­Oklahoma) employs a mix of hand-drawn and digital art throughout and incorporates Ojibwe and Cahuilla designs in the pages relating Bender’s and Meyers’s childhoods. The art expertly foregrounds the central figures: Bender and Meyers are drawn with detailed texture, setting them apart from the largely flat backgrounds ­featuring teammates, fans, and reporters. An author’s note, a detailed timeline, and a list of sources round out this handsome package, sure to pique the interest of young baseball fans.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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