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Southern Courtroom Drama Tobacco Sticks Free Oct 1-5!

Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Southern Courtroom Drama Tobacco Sticks Free Oct 1-5!

The winner of a starred review in Publishers Weekly and a Book of the Month Club Selection will be on Free Download on Amazon  Oct 1-5. This Mockingbird drama that covers the demise of a Virginia family in 1946 Richmond Virginia has echoes of To Kill A Mockingbird in it’s twelve year old narrator and her father who takes a case putting him against the town.

Publishers Weekly Review of The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 27, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Publishers Weekly Review of The Pitcher

The Pitcher
William Elliott Hazelgrove
Morgan James/Koehler (Ingram, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (252p) ISBN 978-1-938467-59-2
While ostensibly a contemporary baseball story, Hazelgrove’s expansive fifth novel also tackles issues of class, immigration law, and inequity. Thirteen-year-old Ricky Hernandez has a 75 mph pitch and dreams of making the freshman baseball team in Jacksonville, Fla., as the first step toward a professional career. He’s dyslexic, of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, and is ceaselessly taunted by his peers, led by a kid named Eric with an inside track to making the team. While most of Ricky’s teammates can afford sports camp and private lessons, he and his mother are broke due to his abusive father’s lack of financial support and his mother’s mounting medical bills. Despite her deteriorating health, she has loads of attitude, brains, and charm. She singlehandedly persuades their neighbor, “The Pitcher,” who played in the World Series, to set aside his beer, leave his garage, and coach Ricky. Hazelgrove (Rocket Man) measures out a generous sprinkling of American idealism while weaving in legitimate threads of sorrow, employing the oft-usedbaseball metaphor to fresh and moving effect. Adult characters are particularly well-crafted, giving the book crossover potential. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)

Naperville Sun Interview with William Hazelgrove on The Pitcher

Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in General News | Comments Off on Naperville Sun Interview with William Hazelgrove on The Pitcher

William Hazelgrove hopes to have a major league hit to contend with in his latest novel, “The Pitcher.” Described as a “classic story of baseball, the price of dreams and the lessons of life,” it’s the fifth book written by the 1977 Naperville Central High School graduate.

“‘The Pitcher’ took about three years (to write),” said Hazelgrove, 53. “It is the story of a Mexican-American boy with a golden arm and a broken down World Series pitcher who coaches him to make the high school team.”

Hazelgrove, of St. Charles, was fresh out of graduate school at Western Illinois University when he penned his first book.

“My first year out of grad school I did something very strange,” he said. “I wrote a novel. I never thought about becoming a writer, but I was a big reader, and I just thought it was something I could do.”

Inspired by books like S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders,” his writing career began.

“I remember reading ‘The Outsiders’ the first time,” the author said. “I will never forget the opening scene. It made me want to write a novel like that.”

“Ripples,” “Tobacco Sticks,” “Mica Highways” and “Rocket Man,” preceded “The Pitcher,” which was released this month.

The author said he found his inspiration for “The Pitcher” during a trip to Florida.

“I came up with it after meeting an old World Series pitcher who had retired and sat in his garage all day listening to ball games,” Hazelgrove said. “I had been (an) assistant coach for my son for years — a pitcher — so I wanted to get my arms around the whole thing of kids’ sports and how money affects who will play because they get all the lessons.”

The book recently was recommended by the Junior Library Guild’s editorial team, and accolades continue to roll in. And on Oct. 17, he’ll return to his hometown for a book signing at Anderson’s Bookshop in downtown Naperville.

But he’s not resting on the success of “The Pitcher.”

“I have a book coming out in the spring called ‘One Up’ and then a book called ‘Real Santa’ out the following fall.”

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 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.