Out Of The Ballpark

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Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, was born in Manhattan on July 27, 1975, although his family would move back to the Dominican Republic four years later, before returning to the states and settling in Miami three years after that.

His father soon abandoned the family, which forced Alex’s mom to take two jobs to support their three kids all alone. It was in Florida that A-Rod’s love of baseball which would lead to his major league career was forged, and he draws on those experiences in writing Out of the Ballpark, a picture book ideal for children between the ages of four and eight.

The admittedly, semi-autobiographical adventure recounts the efforts of a kid named Alex and his best friend, J.D., who play for a Little League team called the Caribes. The tale opens during the post-season playoffs, and Alex is so nervous that he makes an error that almost cost them a chance to play for the championship.

Still, it’s easy to guess how it all will end, but perhaps more important than winning is Alex’s postscript where he says that the fictional story is “based on things I actually did- like actually getting up at 5 A.M. to practice my baseball fundamentals.” An admirable role model, he adds, “I also studied hard, stayed away from drugs, and showed respect for my friends and elders. That’s my recipe for success, but you can use it, too.”

Baseball memorabilia collectors might want to note that the first edition of Out of the Ballpark includes a special-issue Topps baseball card featuring a photo of an adolescent A-Rod on the front, and a brief description of his childhood on the back.

Available in English and Spanish, the book is elegantly illustrated by Frank Morrison, a gifted artist who paints young Alex as the sort of doe-eyed hero certain to appeal to the imaginations of drowsy future major leaguers about to drift off to sleep.

Book Details: Out Of The Ballpark, by Alex Rodriguez. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. HarperCollins Publishers. Hardcover, $16.99. 32 pages. ISBN: 0-06-115194-7

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