Book Excerpt: A Big Day for Baseball

 

A Big Day for Baseball is the latest installment in Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series. It is published by Random House Children’s Books. For more information on the series, visit MagicTreeHouse.com.

Chapter 1
Fly Ball

The early Saturday morning air was damp and chilly. Jack sat on his front porch steps. His chin was cupped in his hands.
Annie came out the front door.
“Do you want Mom to take us to the rec center now?” she asked. It was the day for baseball tryouts.
“I’ve decided not to go,” said Jack.
Annie sat down next to him. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I can’t stop thinking about last season’s tryouts,” said Jack. “I fell down when I swung the
bat. Everybody laughed.”
“Yeah, well, everybody laughed at me, too,” said Annie. “Remember, I threw the ball to the
wrong team.”
“So maybe neither of us should go,” said Jack.
“But our whole family loves baseball,” said Annie. “We read about it. We watch it. We learn
batting averages. We— ”
Before Annie could finish, something dropped from the sky and rolled across their front yard.
“What’s that?” said Jack. He and Annie ran down the steps.
A small white ball lay in the grass. Annie grabbed it.
“It’s a baseball!” she said.
“Where did it come from?” said Jack.
He and Annie walked to the sidewalk and looked up and down their street. No one was there.
“Maybe it’s from another world,” whispered Annie. She handed the ball to Jack.
“That’s crazy,” said Jack. “What other world?”
“Think about it,” said Annie. “One second, we’re talking about baseball—and how we don’t
want to go to tryouts. The next, this baseball drops from the sky!”
“Oh. You mean— ” said Jack.
“Morgan!” Jack and Annie said together.
Annie took off down the sidewalk. “Let’s go!” she called to Jack.
“Hold on!” Jack shouted. He put the mysterious ball inside his backpack and raced after Annie.
Jack and Annie crossed the street and dashed into the Frog Creek woods. They hurried between the trees until they came to the tallest oak.
The magic tree house was back.
“Yay, team!” said Annie. She grabbed the rope ladder and climbed up. Jack followed her into the tree house.
Leaf shadows danced on the wooden floor. Two gray baseball caps sat in the dappled light.
Next to the caps was a book: history of baseball. A red leather bookmark was sticking out from the pages.
Jack picked up the book and opened to the bookmark. The page showed a photo of a baseball stadium. The caption beneath it said:

Ebbets Field,
Brooklyn, New York
April 15, 1947

“Ebbets Field?” said Jack. “I’ve heard of that. It was a famous ballpark.”
“Look, there’s a message on the bookmark,” said Annie.
Jack held the bookmark up to the light.
“It’s Morgan’s handwriting!” he said. He read aloud:

’Twas a big day for baseball
So many years ago.
Journey to Ebbets Field
To learn what you should know.

“Learn what we should know?” repeated Jack. “To become better ballplayers?”
“Sounds like it!” said Annie. “Morgan must have known about the tryouts.” She read the next verse:

These caps are magic
Made only for you
To give you the skill
To know what to do.

“Oh, man, it sounds like these caps will make us great players!” said Jack.
“Yay!” said Annie. She read on:

As long as you wear them
All others will see
The skillful people
You’re pretending to be.

“I get it! Everyone else will see us as great players!” said Annie.
“In a Little League game?” said Jack.
“Why not?” said Annie. “Little League teams must have played at Ebbets Field, too.”
“Yeah, probably all kinds of teams played there,” said Jack.
Annie read more:

When you hear the final score,
Give the ball with the name
To the one who knows best
The rules of the game.

“Our baseball has a name?” said Jack. He pulled the ball out of his pack and turned it over in his hands. “No name here.”
“Well, maybe we’re supposed to give it one,” said Annie. “How about Ballee?”
“Ballee?” said Jack. “I don’t think so.”
“Okay, okay. How about Fly Ball?” said Annie. “It flew down to us.”
“Fine, whatever,” said Jack. He put Fly Ball back into his pack. “Ready?”
“Yes! This is going to be so much fun,” said Annie.
Jack pointed at the photo of Brooklyn, New York. “I wish we could go there!” he said.
The wind started to blow.
The tree house started to spin.
It spun faster and faster.
Then everything was still.
Absolutely still.


Chapter 2
Opening Day

A spring breeze blew into the tree house. The sky was cloudy.
“Hey, baseball uniforms!” said Annie.
Their clothes had magically changed. They
were wearing baseball shoes, long socks, and baggy gray pants. Jack’s backpack had turned
into a leather bag.
“Look at that!” said Annie. She pointed at the word batboy stitched on the front of their jerseys.
“Oh. So we’re going to be great batboys,” said Jack with a frown, “not great players.”
“Don’t worry,” said Annie. “I’m sure Morgan thinks that being great batboys will help us
become great players.”
“But you can’t be a batboy,” said Jack, “and there was no such thing as a batgirl back then.”
“Don’t worry,” said Annie. “If we wear these caps, everyone will see what we’re pretending to be. Remember?”
“Oh, right . . . ,” said Jack.
Annie and Jack picked up their caps and put them on.
“Wow!” Annie said with a big grin.
“Yeah . . . WOW!” said Jack. He felt a surge of excitement and confidence. “I feel like I know everything about baseball now!”
“Me too!” said Annie.
“I can’t wait to get to Ebbets Field!” said Jack.
“Let’s go!” He shoved the baseball book into his backpack. Then he led the way down the rope ladder.
Jack and Annie stepped onto the ground.
They’d landed in a small grove of trees. Nearby were stone benches and a fountain. Children were playing on the grass and walkways.
“Looks like a city park,” said Jack.
“Let’s ask directions,” said Annie.
As they headed toward the kids, a gust of wind blew through the park.
“Watch out!” said Jack, grabbing his cap.
Annie held on to her cap, too.
“We can’t lose these!” she said.
“No kidding!” said Jack.
They passed a man playing guitar and singing in Spanish. They passed some girls playing jacks. They passed a group of noisy kids shooting marbles.
“Hey, two batboys!” one of the kids shouted.
The others looked up and waved at Jack and Annie.
Annie smiled at Jack. “See? They think I’m a boy,” she said. “The magic’s working.”
“Cool,” Jack said with a grin. “You look the same to me, though.”
“And you look the same to me,” said Annie. “Maybe we always look like our true selves to each other.”
Annie turned back to the kids playing marbles. “Excuse me, how do we get to Ebbets Field?” she called.
“That way!” shouted one of the bigger kids.
He pointed across the park. “When you get to the street, it’s just a few blocks east.”
“You’d better hurry!” yelled a small girl. “The game starts at two-thirty!”
“What time is it now?” Jack called.
One of the boys looked at his watch. “It’s one-thirty!” he shouted.
“Oh, man, we’re late!” said Jack. “We should’ve been there at one o’clock to start our chores! Run!”
“Fast!” said Annie. She and Jack held on to their caps and they began running across the windy park.
“Batboys! Batboys! Wait for us!” someone shouted.
Jack and Annie looked back. The two smallest kids from the marbles game were scrambling after them. Jack thought the boy and girl looked about six years old.
“Sorry! We have to hurry!” Jack yelled.
“But we can help you!” the girl said. “We know a shortcut!”
“You do?” said Annie.
“Yes!” said the boy. “We go to Ebbets Field a lot! This way!”
The small kids turned and started down a dirt path. Annie and Jack ran after them. “What are your names?” the girl called.
“Jack and—Andy!” Annie yelled back. “What’s yours?”
“I’m Olive!” said the girl. “This is my twin brother, Otis!”
“Twins? Cool!” said Annie.
“It’s a big day for baseball!” said Otis.
“That’s what we hear,” said Jack.
“I wish we could be batboys like you!” said Otis.
“We know all the rules!” said Olive.
The twins led the way to a busy street at the edge of the park. Old-fashioned cars rattled down the broad avenue. The huge cars had long rounded hoods and lots of shiny silver chrome.
Alongside the cars, a trolley clattered over tracks.
Jack and Annie stood at the corner with the twins and waited for the light to change. Nearby, a newsstand was selling the Brooklyn Eagle. Jack read a headline:

Opening Day at Ebbets Field
Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Boston Braves

“Annie, look!” he said, pointing at the newspaper. “We’ll be working at a big-league game!”
Big-league? Wow!” said Annie.
“You didn’t know that?” said Olive.
“I thought the Braves were from Atlanta,” Annie said to Jack. “And the Dodgers from L.A.!”
“Not in 1947!” said Jack.
“You didn’t know that?” asked Otis.
“Light’s red! Let’s go!” yelled Jack.
“Hold hands!” cried Olive. She grabbed
Annie’s hand, and Otis grabbed Jack’s. “Watch out for the trolley!”
Jack and Annie ran with the twins across the avenue to the opposite corner.
“Good job!” said Otis.
“Where now?” Jack asked breathlessly.
“We’ll take you!” said Olive. “Run!”
“Thanks!” said Jack. He liked the friendly kids.
Jack and Annie held on to their caps as they ran against the wind. They followed Otis and Olive down one street, then another.
“Turn at the corner!” said Olive.
They all turned onto a busy, crowded street.
“There!” the twins said together.
In front of them was the tall brick wall of a stadium. The words Ebbets Field curved around the wall. A huge crowd was headed inside.
“Yay!” said Annie, panting. “Thanks for showing us a shortcut, guys!”
“We’re not there yet! Come on!” said Olive.
“It’s a big day for baseball!” said Otis again.
“A really big day!”

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