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.
Book jacket by Kit Foster