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Latino Book Club Review of The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Latino Book Club Review of The Pitcher

Ricky,    I know you are having trouble. Just remember that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.  Don’t worry about me.  I will always be there for you.  I will always be with you. Just take your breath and listen to what Mr. Langford tells you.  Remember I will always love you and that will never change.  You are becoming a fine young man and a great baseball player.  I couldn’t be prouder of you. Now take your breath, find your quiet space and use the gift God gave you.  I love you.        Love you forever,                 Mom        P.S.  Take your breath!”

THE PITCHER is destined to become a classic.  It is well-written, funny, heart-warming, engaging, easy to read, romantic and uplifting. On the surface this story may seem to be all about baseball and pitchers, but it’s more than that. THE PITCHER, a Junior Library Guild Selection, is about a loving and determined Hispanic mother who will endure anything and survive everything for the love of her child and his right to fulfill his dreams; it’s about overcoming prejudice and poverty; it’s about second chances; and most of all, it’s about learning to believe in yourself.
Book Summary: 14-year-old Ricky Hernandez is about to enter high school and wants a spot on the school baseball team. The problem is his wild pitching arm. He can throw super fast but he has no control over it. Just like he has no control over his ex-father who continues to barge in and steal what little money they have; nor his grandmother’s fears of deportation; nor the rival pitcher who continually bullies him; nor his mother’s deteriorating ill health. Ricky longs for some helpful tips from another pitcher, like a World Series pitcher and MVP Jack Langford, who just happens to live next door, but Jack wants to be left alone. In fact, all anybody ever sees are his feet at the bottom of the garage door which is always down.
However, Jack doesn’t count on Maria Hernandez. She is a dynamo and will not take no for an answer, even if it means confronting a curmudgeon in his man-cave and forcing him into the light. Yet even with the MLB pitcher finally coaching him, Ricky can’t seem to find his zone. And when his mother’s health takes a turn for the worse nothing seems to matter anymore and certainly not some stupid baseball game. But Maria will not let him quit and from her hospital bed she encourages her son to prove himself and win. There is the obligatory“win this one for the coach” scene, but it rings true. And the ending is inspiring and joyful as any reader could wish.###

School Library Journal Review of JLG Pick The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 17, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on School Library Journal Review of JLG Pick The Pitcher

School Library Journal Review of The Pitcher



HAZELGROVE, William. The Pitcher. 241p. Morgan James/Köehler. 2013. pap. $15.95. ISBN 978-1-938467-59-2.

Gr 8 Up–Ricky Hernandez has dreamed of pitching ever since, at nine years old, he astounded the grown-ups with his throwing speed at a carnival game. Now almost 14, he’s still got the speed, but has never learned to control his pitches. His mom is his biggest fan, and she scrapes together enough for him to play on a youth league team and acts as its assistant coach. But in affluent Jacksonville, Florida, where the other rising freshmen attend elite sport camps and have personal coaches, Ricky and his mom know that he needs more if he’s going to have any chance at the high school team. His reclusive neighbor is rumored to be Jack Langford, the winning pitcher of the 1978 World Series, so Maria begins her campaign to enlist him as Ricky’s coach, but the Pitcher wants no part of it. He has spent the years since his wife died holed up in his garage with beer and cigarettes and ESPN. But Maria is tenacious, and he agrees reluctantly to help her son. The beauty of this story is that there is no sudden epiphany for Ricky when the Pitcher steps in. Langford is impatient and intolerant and sometimes drinks too much. Ricky is used to struggling academically because he can’t stay focused, and lets himself believe that this same lack of concentration is going to keep him from ever being a good pitcher. The other players pick up on his insecurities and use racial slurs to get under his skin at games. Hazelgrove is skilled at creating fully fleshed-out characters, and the dialogue carries the story along beautifully. While there is plenty of sports action, The Pitcher is ultimately about relationships, and the resolution and personal growth of the characters will appeal to a wide audience.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA


Absolutely Wonderful! Amazon Review of The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 15, 2013 in EH-Attic, General News | Comments Off on Absolutely Wonderful! Amazon Review of The Pitcher

I’ve read many baseball novels throughout the years from Harold M. Sherman’s books written in the 1930s, the TAB Books of the 1950s, like “The Kid Who Batted 1.000″ and the many books of John R. Tunis, up through my adult years with books such as “The Natural,” and the Crabbe Evers series and the excellent mysteries of Troy Soos. Many of these, and others, are quite decent, if not, excellent baseball novels. But none of these ever came close to leaving me with the intense sense of wonder that I felt after, and while, reading Mr. Hazelgrove’s, “The Pitcher.” “To Kill a Mockingbird” combined with the coach from “The Bad News Bears” might point you in the same direction, but, obviously, these two books cannot be combined. Although grounded in the trappings of reality, this book is magical.
The son’s ambitions and hopes combined with his mother’s support are what the book is all about. But, throw in a down-at-the-heels, former star player, and the book becomes one that should be read slowly, and savored, in order to enjoy every nuance of the plot. Again, this book is magical.

Hold on To Those Dreams. Review of The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 6, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Hold on To Those Dreams. Review of The Pitcher

Ricky Hernandez dreams of making the high school baseball team.  He is a pitcher with an arm like a rocket. Ricky;s mother is dying and she asks the old World Series pitcher across the street to help Ricky. I was absolutely mesmerized by this book. This story is so much more than just a kid loving baseball. I came to admire Maria and her son, Ricky. I found myself urging Jack Langford, the pitcher along with Maria and Ricky , to keep going, not to give up. the author brings in topics such as illegal immigration, issues of health care and domestic violence.  Mr. Hazelgrove doesn’t get preachy or pushy about it.  He just lays the topics out there for you to decide. The author wrote an amazing story of love and sticking to what you believe in, I’m hoping that everyone of all ages will read this wonderful book.  I can’t say enough good about it.  Everyone, Ricky, his mother, the Pitcher all had their moment to shine.  Now it’s time for the author to have his “moment to shine.” Good honest story and a good understanding of children. Mr. Hazelgrove keep on writing.  We need good books, not only for the adults, but more so, for the children.


Kane County Chronicle Interview St Charles Author Gears up for The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 5, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Kane County Chronicle Interview St Charles Author Gears up for The Pitcher


Kane County Chronicle Front Page

Shiny Book Review–A Novel Worth Cheering About

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Shiny Book Review–A Novel Worth Cheering About

William Hazelgrove’s THE PITCHERis the story of young Ricky Hernandez, whose main goal is to make his high school baseball team.  Ricky has an arm, you see, and a fastball that’s much better than his peers.  But as he’s extremely poor, Ricky probably already would’ve dropped out of baseball competition except for one thing: his mother, Maria.

You see, Maria is a force of nature.  She’s the mother we all wish we would’ve had, growing up.  She’s an assistant coach on Ricky’s summer baseball team, not because she cares about the game, but because it’s the only way she can assure that Ricky will get any playing time.   Maria’s main drawback as a person is that she’s so focused on her son, she’s not been very good at treating her own health (she has lupus).

When THE PITCHER opens, it’s about three months until high school baseball tryouts.  Ricky wants to make the team badly.  He knows he has talent.  But he hasn’t had the advantages of most of the other players (most especially an obnoxious kid named Eric); his only real coach is his mother, who has learned all she knows about baseball from books.  She mostly tells Ricky things like, “Take a deep breath” and “Did you remember to breathe?,” which are good generic things to say, I suppose, but don’t get to the bottom of why Ricky’s aim is poor and why his concentration isn’t where it should be, either.

Enter “the Pitcher:” His name is Jack Langford, he pitched in the majors for 25 years, and in Hazelgrove’s conception, was the hero of the 1978 World Series as a member of the victorious Detroit Tigers.  (As a baseball fan, I have to admit that I wish the Tigers would’ve won over the real 1978 American League and World Series champs, the New York Yankees.  They were fifth in the AL Eastern Division; my favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers, was third.  But I digress.)  Hazelgrove was a successful pitcher, but since he finished his career, life has taken a major turn for the worse because Langford’s wife died; after that, Langford felt life wasn’t worth living and turned to drink to help himself cope.

At any rate, Maria wants Langford to help her son learn how to pitch (rather than merely throw with no control), so Langford starts helping Ricky out.  It goes in fits and starts, though, partly because of Langford’s alcoholism, partly because Ricky’s mother’s health, and partly because of Eric’s nasty mother, who will do anything she can — even so far as calling Ricky an “illegal alien” — to keep Ricky away from the high school baseball team.

I’d Give it TEN Stars If I Could …Amazon Review of The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in EH-Attic, General News | Comments Off on I’d Give it TEN Stars If I Could …Amazon Review of The Pitcher

I’d give it TEN stars if I could,September 2, 2013

Anne Honeywood (Connecticut, USA) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Pitcher (Kindle Edition)

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and now that I just finished it, literally moments ago, I’m cast adrift wondering what to do now. I have my own book to continue writing, but can’t settle down to it because The Pitcher keeps filling my head, and I’m writing about horses, not baseball, so no help there.
If you only get to read one book this year, choose this one. It is a treasure on its way to becoming a classic. if they turn this into a film, I will be rooting for Kevin Spacey to play the Pitcher. It will be Academy Award stuff.