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The Gordon Family Saga #3

Out of Left Field

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A story about the fight for equal rights in America's favorite arena: the baseball field!

Every boy in the neighborhood knows Katy Gordon is their best pitcher, even though she's a girl. But when she tries out for Little League, it's a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy's game and always has been. It's not fair, and Katy's going to fight back. Inspired by what she's learning about civil rights in school, she sets out to prove that she's not the only girl who plays baseball. With the help of friendly librarians and some tenacious research skills, Katy discovers the forgotten history of female ball players. Why does no one know about them? Where are they now? And how can one ten-year-old change people's minds about what girls can do?

Set in 1957--the world of Sputnik and Leave It to Beaver, saddle shoes and "Heartbreak Hotel"--Out of Left Field is both a detailed picture of a fascinating historic period and a timelessly inspiring story about standing up for equality at any age.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 2018

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About the author

Ellen Klages

69 books231 followers
Ellen Klages was born in Ohio, and now lives in San Francisco.

Her short fiction has appeared in science fiction and fantasy anthologies and magazines, both online and in print, including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Black Gate, and Firebirds Rising. Her story, "Basement Magic," won the Best Novelette Nebula Award in 2005. Several of her other stories have been on the final ballot for the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and have been reprinted in various Year’s Best volumes.

She was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award, and is a graduate of the Clarion South writing workshop.

Her first novel The Green Glass Sea, about two misfit eleven-year-old girls living in Los Alamos during WWII, while their parents are creating the atomic bomb, came out in October 2006 from Sharyn November at Viking. Ellen is working on a sequel.

She has also written four books of hands-on science activities for children (with Pat Murphy, et al.) for the Exploratorium museum in San Francisco.

In addition to her writing, she serves on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and is somewhat notorious as the auctioneer/entertainment for the Tiptree auctions at Wiscon.

When she's not writing fiction, she sells old toys and magazines on eBay, and collects lead civilians.

from ellenklages.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 236 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica.
568 reviews776 followers
April 25, 2018

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love historical fiction and I love baseball and I love girls standing up for what they believe in, so of course I loved this!

I have a lot to say about this book.

First, I LOVED that it took place in the Bay Area, because I am from the bay. The SF Giants are mentioned in this and they’re my favorite team (Go Giants!). Additionally, I liked that it talked about the San Fransisco Seals because truthfully I’ve never heard of them.

I also loved the diversity. One of the main character’s friends, PeeWee Ishikawa, is Japanese American and at one point in the novel he brings up Japanese internment. I always appreciate it when books mention Japanese internment because it is something that still gets overlooked at times. I’m glad the book acknowledged it. Her other friend, Chip, is black and through her friendship with him she learns all about the Negro League and how the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was white only. That made the book intersectional so I was really happy to see that.

If you didn’t already guess it, this book is jammed pack with information, both baseball and not baseball related. I ended up learning a lot about the history of women in baseball. The book takes place in 1957-1958, so it incorporates real life events that happened in those years as well (The Little Rock Nine, Sputnik, etc.).

The overall storyline was good. It did a really tremendous job at showcasing how unfair it is that girls can’t play Little League.

As a random side note, I loved the little mention of Walt Disney and his television program. I love Disney so any mention of him is always a plus in my book.

Overall, this was an amazing, informative, and inspirational book, and if you read it, be prepared to be schooled in women’s baseball!
Profile Image for Farah.
767 reviews91 followers
December 16, 2019
I may have given up on understanding baseball but I can never give up history. This is a fiction but loaded with facts, nonfiction - women in baseball and the space race.

In 1957, Malaya was on her way to gain independence from the Brit and in the States, a 1O year old Katy Gordon was in a war of words of her own with the Little League's board. Katy was a damn fine pitcher, she loved baseball, knew most of the players and stats but there was this one sentence in the Little League's rule book that said
"Girls Are Not Eligible."

This book is unique. It is a treat to read a story where the fiction and nonfiction are so delightfully balanced, great dialogues, endearing characters, and good-quality writing. This book completely charmed me and evoked a wide range of emotions, this is a story that other books in its genre should strive to achieve.

My heart breaks and swells simultaneously for these extraordinary female baseball players for pushing forward and not grovel to the men when they beat their chests and claim baseball as theirs. These women sacrifice, practice hard in perfecting their games, keep on believing in their passion, inspire /pave way for the next generations and show their moves at the ball games.

Katy is a wonderful lead, her love for the game shines throughout the story and thanks to her diligence, these womens' stories are uncovered. I love Katy's role as a pitcher, the accuracy of her pitches, the way she strokes/handles the ball before throwing and how happy she is when she strikes the batters out, especially the smug ones.

Read how an idiot pretending to be intelligent.
“I’m Coach Martin,” the man said. He had a strong voice that carried. “For almost twenty years, Little League had been open to any boy who wants to play baseball. Your race, your religion, your ethnic heritage—none of that matters."

Through this book, I learned that women have always been a part of baseball history, only it’s a part that didn’t get written down as much, so most people are unaware of. Now, baseball is a worldwide game, and this is the world of equal opportunity[in progress] so nothing's gonna stop anyone now.

1.Was Katy successful in educating the idiots?
You'll definitely want to experience it yourself.
2.Did this book convert me into a baseball fan?
Nope, I still love my guys/gals to run all over the field, chasing a ball instead of standing around looking
fancy schmancy in their uniforms.

Additional Information
#1 - Jackie Mitchell, a 17-year-old southpaw who pitched against the New York Yankees on April 2, 1931. The first batter she faced was Ruth, followed by Lou Gehrig, the deadliest hitting duo in baseball history. Mitchell struck them both out.

#2 - MERDEKA! - The great emotive word that Malaya's Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman, shouted seven times to the expectant crowd in Merdeka Stadium on August 31st 1957. I still cry me a river whenever I listen/watch the clip and feel the goosebumps.

Future Research
I need to read about these wonder women -
Lizzie Arlington, Alta Weiss, Lizzie Murphy, Maud Nelson, Jackie Mitchell, Edith Houghton, Babe Didrikson, Sophie Kurys, Dorothy Kamenshek, Eleanor Engle, Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanut” Johnson.

It was really difficult to keep a neutral expression when kid1 told me that she was trying out for the rugby team early this year. I nodded and said something gibberish before running up to my bedroom and screamed excitedly into the pillow.

263 reviews10 followers
June 3, 2018
Ellen Klages is a friend, and I'm also a fan of her writing, including her young adult historicals The Green Glass Sea and White Sands, Red Menace. This book follows the younger sister of the two girls who are the protagonists of the first two books. Katy Gordon is a young baseball pitcher in the late 1950s, struggling with the widely held notion that baseball is a man's sport.

When that belief flies up and hits her in the face, Katy goes on a historical tour through the long, deep, and mostly forgotten history of women's baseball, learns a lot, and meets some fascinating people. Like her older sisters Dewey and Suze, Katy is a believable, likable protagonist and her story is engaging. My only complaint about the book is that it's a little skewed toward the historical (not just baseball history) at the expense of possible character development and plot.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Definitely for the baseball players and fans in your life.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,367 reviews376 followers
February 2, 2019
Girls don't play baseball.

Or do they?

If you ask kids today whether or not girls can play baseball, it might depend on how much they know about the sport—and also if they've ever heard of one of my favorite movies of all time, A League of their Own.

But for Katy in 1957, women or girls in baseball was an unheard of thing. She was an anomaly, because the long history of women's leagues and women baseball players had been suppressed throughout history, even though the All-American Girl's Baseball League was disbanded a couple years before the book started.

So when she tries out for Little League, gets selected and then kicked out when they find out she's a girl, she runs into the discrimination wall for the first time (first big time).

So in addition to teaching children about the rich history of women (white and black—I knew there were Black women baseball players, but I had no idea that they had had a league of their own, in addition to the segregated men's league) in baseball, this book is about the retelling of history—about how organizations and people sometimes gloss over or suppress people's stories and accomplishments in order to tell a narrative that suits their purposes. In this case, it was that baseball was a man's sport, and that women just weren't physically suited to play the All-American game—despite there being women who had struck out or outplayed some of the greatest of all times, or the fact that some famous male players got their start in women's leagues (and fun fact).

I haven't read any of the other books in the Gordon Family saga (yes, I know I started with the last book first—it's not really necessary to read them in order), but I loved Katy's interactions with her mom. Her mom was brilliant. Hell, I loved her entire family. They were all smart, intelligent women who were the complete opposite of what you'd expect women to behave in the 1950s.

Speaking of the 1950s, I loved that this books shows that while some things were swell—like, being able to let your kids roam freely in the neighborhoods without worrying about serial killers—many, many other things were downright awful for a lot of different people. From the placing of Japanese (and other Asian-descended citizens) into concentration camps in the 1940s (something that Katy's classmate mentioned that everyone had forgotten about even though it was 15 years ago—again, suppression of information and reshaping history to fit a certain narrative), to racism and desegregation, to women being shuffled back into the home life and the discrimination they faced in many fields, to the scare of communism and the rise of uber-patriotism and conservatism...well, the 1950s are definitely not a time I would have wanted to live in.

This would have been a 5 star read, easily, if it wasn't for historical language. I understand that when writing a historical fiction novel historically accuracy is paramount, however there are some racially charged words that today cause more harm or hurt than is warranted for being historically accurate. I loved that racism was addressed (which seems really weird but c'mon folks the 1950s was a horrible period for a lot of people and I'm glad that this book shows not just the lives of straight white people but how things were in a way that children would be able to understand—particularly since certain *ahem* generations look back and view the 1950s through rose-colored glasses)—for both Asian and Black people—but I really wished that two historical terms had not been used to describe them. There are other ways to do it that would have still been historically accurate.
Profile Image for ambyr.
868 reviews78 followers
August 24, 2018
This is a book about baseball and library research, and it should not be as thrilling as it is, but Katy's earnest voice gives even the mundane urgency and heart. I love that it ends not with victory but with the message that sometimes the struggle for justice is worth engaging in for its own sake, regardless of outcome.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,705 reviews129 followers
April 1, 2022

Without a doubt, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. What started as a simple story about a young girl who wants to play Little League—without success. It morphed into a wonderful history of women in baseball.

I highly recommend reading this book especially young girls.
Profile Image for Kris Patrick.
1,490 reviews70 followers
October 8, 2018
To borrow from another Goodreads reviewer, Out of Left Field has strengths and weaknesses. I can’t get past the weaknesses enough to give it more than three stars.

To choose one, I’m not a fan of anything that perpetuates a tomboy / non-tomboy binary. For one, I don’t like the term tomboy the same way I can’t stand the phrase girly-girl. Puke. Girls come in all shapes, sizes, and haircuts (!) with a wide and complex list of interests. An interest in indoor activities such as cooking and crafts doesn’t automatically make a girl boring and shallow. Interest in playing outdoors with boys doesn’t automatically make a girl an open-minded, collaborative leader.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,826 reviews35 followers
September 2, 2019
There's a lot that you may not know about baseball in this story set in the late 1950s. Katy wants to play Little League baseball and she is good enough to make her local team. There's a catch though; according to Little League rules; girls are not eligible. By learning the history of female ballplayers and the Negro Leagus, can Katy change the minds of Little League?
Profile Image for Meghan.
29 reviews1 follower
April 18, 2018
I don’t like sports books. I’m not interested in sports, period. So that makes it doubly impressive that I couldn’t put this book down!

Katy Gordon is the best pitcher in the neighborhood, hands-down. She’s so good that she impresses a passing Little League recruiter and he invites her to tryouts. Naturally, she makes the cut and everything’s awesome!

…except that it’s 1957. Girls are not eligible for Little League, period. No exceptions. She may have passed as a boy for tryouts, but some kid’s mom rats her out and she’s immediately cut from the team. Okay, so Katy writes a passionate, logical, well-reasoned letter to Little League asking them to allow her to play. Surely that’ll work, right?

Nope. They send her back the most frustratingly condescending reply, saying girls aren’t physically capable of playing baseball, that she’d only be a distraction to the boys, that baseball has always been a male-only sport from day one, and that she should really consider cheerleading for the boys or helping the moms provide snacks.

Yeah, I saw red, too.

Furious, Katy sets out to prove them wrong. She lacks the resources necessary to scientifically prove that her physical fitness is just as good as the boys, and the “distraction” claim is practically impossible to prove or disprove. So she decides to challenge the idea that no other girl has ever played baseball before.


Katy’s research uncovers Jackie Mitchell, who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back. But Katy doesn’t stop there, she digs deeper and finds even more women baseball players, writes letters to them, gets interviews, even meets a few. All of them have stories to tell about the sexism that denied them the chance to play the game they loved because of their gender.

And soon, Katy finds it goes further than gender, too. She meets Toni Stone, one of the first African American women to play on the Negro League*. And here’s where we learn about when racism and sexism intersect. All those white women players and recruiters? Weren’t looking to recruit black women, no matter how good they were. Her all-male team? Didn’t think women should play baseball! Stone tells about her experiences, things we would consider mind-bogglingly racist today but were commonplace in the 50s. “It was hell,” she says.

Armed with all of this information, will Katy be able to convince Little League to let her play before she ages out? Will her efforts help open the door to other girls wanting to play ball?

This book was surprisingly engaging and informative. Katy learns about so many women baseball players that I’d never even heard of! The back matter of the book includes biographies for twelve of the players mentioned, plus information about Little League’s policies, Title IX, and the current state of women in sports.

So much of our history is ignored, forgotten, or deliberately erased because our (western) culture doesn’t value the contributions of anyone nonwhite and non-male. And not just in sports, too. I hope this book encourages kids to dig deeper, to not stand by and let injustices slide, and to speak up and let their voices be heard.

(*Did I mention this book takes place in 1957-58? Yeah, this book takes place in the late 50s, when things like Sputnik and the Little Rock Nine were current events. It was a much different world then, and the language in the book certainly reflects that.)
Profile Image for Dan.
484 reviews11 followers
March 28, 2019
I loved reading this book to my daughter. I want her to read a million more books like this. Books that teach her that you have the ability to fight for change when you don’t think something is right. And when you need answers you can go to the library! Recommended for all kids and especially those who love baseball and softball.
Profile Image for Emmie.
38 reviews2 followers
May 11, 2018
When Neil Gaiman praises a book you know it's going to be good! Set in 1957, Out of Left Field is a great middle grades read aloud filled with historical references AND gumption. I'm looking forward to teaching this one!
Profile Image for Jan.
801 reviews26 followers
April 16, 2019
I loved, loved, loved this book! What a fantastic story about a strong young woman bucking society's norms, who stands up for herself and fights for the right, not only for herself, but for all young women, to be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do, and in her case, doing it better than all the boys! An absolutely terrific read.

When I bought the book I knew that it was written by Ellen Klages whose two books The Green Glass Sea and the sequel White Sands, Red Menace I had both read and loved. What I didn't know until it suddenly hit me over the head as I was reading, was that our heroine, the fierce young Katy Gordon, was the baby Dr. Gordon was carrying when the Gordon family left New Mexico 10 years ago to move back to Berkeley at the end of White Sands, Red Menace. Finding that out made me love this story even more. How many times have you loved a book and the characters so much that you didn't want their story to end, or maybe you wanted to know what happens next in the character's lives and where they ended up, or how their lives changed? Well, I have that happen to me all the time. So thank you Ellen Klages for giving us more of the Gordon family story and introducing us to an incredible role model for young girls everywhere, one who is strong and determined and believes in herself, who keeps fighting for what's right, and doesn't quit when the going gets tough. You go girl!
Profile Image for Mary.
715 reviews11 followers
March 3, 2021
I don't know what happened to my earlier review! Short version: I am so, so impressed with Klages' research! And the book feels real, and Katie's desire to play little league baseball will appeal to sports-loving kids. But I actually kind of hated the "no girls allowed" club. I was a baseball-loving tomboy as a child, but it's not a good idea to teach girls--or boys--self-hatred, is it? The contempt for "girly-girls" made me want to go out and read (or write!) a book with a "girly-girl" heroine.

But, except for that small glitch, this is a well-crafted, well-paced, and extremely well-researched novel. If you read it, you'll likely have some fun, and you'll certainly learn something. I did!
Profile Image for Dillon.
19 reviews
August 11, 2019
I loved this book so much and it just go's to show that girls CAN do anything even if every one thinks otherwise and tells them not to. Katy Gordon tries hard at everything and even though it may not work she finds out so much about her heroes
12 reviews
June 2, 2020
I thought overall this was a really good book. I really liked how she never quit and she didn't really care what anyone else thought about her.
Profile Image for Richie Partington.
1,077 reviews123 followers
June 9, 2018
Richie’s Picks: OUT OF LEFT FIELD by Ellen Klages, Viking, May 2018, 320p., ISBN: 978-0-425-28859-7

“Talkin' baseball!
The Man and Bobby Feller
The Scooter, the Barber, and the Newc
They knew 'em all from Boston to Dubuque
Especially Willie, Mickey, and the Duke”
-- Terry Cashman, “Talkin’ Baseball” (1981)

“‘I’m Coach Martin,’ the man said. He had a strong voice that carried. ‘For almost twenty years, Little League has been open to any boy who wants to play baseball. Your race, your religion, your ethnic heritage--none of that matters. Little League is a true democracy. It does not discriminate in any way whatsoever. Each of you has an equal chance to make one of the teams, based only on your skills with a ball and a bat. How about that?
Half the boys gave a ragged cheer.
‘That’s the spirit.’ The man smiled. ‘Today we’re going to see how you run, hit, throw, and catch. We’ll also be watching for some things that are not so easily measured--healthy competition that includes goods sportsmanship and fair play.’ The other men nodded.
‘Success on the field comes from dedication, discipline, and--of course--practice, practice, practice!’ He pounded his fist into his hand. ‘Now who’s ready to play ball?’
This time every kid cheered, me included.
‘That’s what I like to hear.’ He tapped his clipboard.”

It’s the fall of 1957, and ten year-old Katy Gordon has grown up playing baseball with the neighborhood boys. She’s got exceptional talent as a pitcher and those boys have long respected and embraced her for that practiced skill.

Using her initials instead of her name, keeping her hair tucked out of sight, Katy easily makes her way through the Little League tryouts. But her attempt to really democratize the organization quickly short circuits when a boy from outside her neighborhood group rats her out. Katy is unceremoniously shown the door as the local adults and the national Little League organization make it clear that baseball is only for boys.

Fortunately for Katy, her mom has a bit of personal history that causes her to be supportive of Katy’s cause. Katy chooses to research women in baseball for a school term assignment, and uncovers a surprisingly long, rich history of female involvement in the national pastime. In the process, she also learns about Negro League baseball.

I loved so much about OUT OF LEFT FIELD. It’s a great American history story, and it’s filled with camaraderie between Katy and the neighborhood boys. Katy’s quest to document the involvement of women in baseball demonstrates to readers how top notch research was undertaken back in the old pre-Internet days, when one would employ the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, snail mail letter writing, and personal interviewing. And while Katy, despite her best efforts, does not ultimately get to join the Little League, she does get some pretty cool recognition for her hard work.

OUT OF LEFT FIELD will complement one of my all-time nonfiction favs, Karen Blumenthal’s 2005 award-winning LET ME PLAY: THE STORY OF TITLE IX: THE LAW THAT CHANGED THE FUTURE OF GIRLS IN AMERICA. It will also fit in nicely with Kadir Nelson’s Sibert Medal-winning WE ARE THE SHIP: THE STORY OF NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com
Profile Image for Paula.
302 reviews
June 8, 2020
I enjoyed every minute I spent with Katy Gordon – ball player with a Sunday pitch that demands respect, girl who knows pig-headed injustice when she sees it, smart kid who puts in the hard work it takes to be heard. And also, a likeable ten-year-old in late 1950s San Francisco.

Katy’s story is a good one. Her determination and her luck are a little out-sized, but less so when you consider that the story is set in the 1950s. And here is where I so admire Ellen Klages’s writing. There’s the usual litter of time markers, like Keds and Hostess Twinkees and transistor radios, but Klages’s characters think and act and feel like people living in the fifties. Katy’s passion is idealistic, imbued with a humility very different from 21st century activism.

Beyond capturing the spirit of the 1950s, Klages also brings in A LOT of history – civil rights, women’s rights, Japanese internment, space race, Cold War, and baseball history. Whew! Many kids will need help processing all this history. Hope they get it.

Pitch-perfect historical fiction.
Profile Image for Michelle.
477 reviews19 followers
August 1, 2018
Equality. Sexism. Civil Rights. Empowerment. Why aren't people talking about this book?!

This middle grade story is truly filled with everything the younger generation needs to be reading about. Honestly, can this be assigned reading?! Set in 1957, this book has so much accurate history written into the story that it could offer a unique way for children to learn about the past.

I am SO happy this was written and may still be tearing up thinking of the main character's presentation. Really hoping this get's into more hands because I have the same hope as the author:

"It is my great hope that one of the girls reading this book will be the pioneer who changes the future."
Profile Image for Erin Buhr.
Author 5 books33 followers
May 2, 2018
OUT OF LEFT FIELD took me by surprise and I love it when books do that.

The plot sounded good. I like books with strong girls and Katy who is determined to play baseball at all costs sounded like a girl with gumption. I also enjoy historical fiction. I've always been a bit of a history geek so I love when authors utilize the sense of place and deep history of a period as the setting for their stories.

I was expected a good historical fiction story about a strong girl. I got so much more. This is a book full of heart and history and depth that everyone should read.

OUT OF LEFT FIELD tells the story of a girl named Katy Gordon in 1957 who makes the little league team in her town only to be told she can't play because the rules state girls are ineligible. Surrounded by a cool history teacher, a strong scientist mom, and the role model of two creative older sisters she takes is upon herself to stand up and change this policy. In the process she learns the fascinating and true history of women in baseball.

Even as I'm typing out the plot I have to admit that it sounds a little slow and a little cliche. I think that's how this book surprised me. It is a page turner and little turns out as you would expect.

The characters are so vividly portrayed that you feel like you know them and can't wait to see how their stories all turn out. It is of course Katy, flawed, impatient, determined Katy, that you root for from the start to the end, but the book is full of interesting people who all have depth and purpose and dreams that are articulated by a skillful writer.

The addition of the history only warms the pages with quirky trivia and intense details that bring alive the time of sputnik and integration and Hostess cupcakes. This is a book that confidently says we came from somewhere and that history is important and yet we are always responsible for our every day decisions.

I don't know how it's possible to write a book that includes the space race, internment camps, integration, gender inequality, baseball history and more and still have you feel like it's a gripping story of a girl standing up for herself but that is exactly what Ellen Klages has done. This is a book that should be read as much for it's look at an important time in American history as it should for just being a really good story.

*Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Christy.
Author 26 books22 followers
May 6, 2018
This middle grade historical novel, set in Berkeley in 1957, is a winner. It starts strong: a reader coming to the book knowing nothing about it could easily assume that the spunky baseball-playing first-person narrator is a boy, as does the Little League recruiter who sees the ace pitcher at a neighborhood game. I also love the book's ending, which is satisfying without being pat. Katy has worked so hard to try to convince the Little League to change its no-girls rule, without success. But she has learned a great deal, had some amazing experiences, and knows that she has laid the foundation for the girls that come after her.
In the middle of the story, as Katy sets out to prove the Little League wrong, she starts at the library and then tracks down women ball players to interview. The book is packed with information about the history of women in baseball in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their struggles against entrenched sexism as well as racial segregation. The novel touches as well on many events and issues of concern in the 1950's from the school desegregation fight in Little Rock to the launch of Sputnik to a classmate's report about his Japanese grandfather's unjust internment during World War II. Kids reading this will absorb a great deal of history, provided in an accessible and age-appropriate manner. Note that some terminology may seem outdated, as it was in use in 1957 (e.g., Negro).
The very appealing hero, Katy, is a fighter who benefits from the strong support of a nuclear scientist mom and two creative and brilliant older sisters, as well as an excellent young teacher and helpful and understanding (and multicultural) friends. It's a well written page turner. And I appreciated the back matter: brief biographies of a dozen female players, an author's note explaining the history of Little League rules, and suggested reading.
A great book for young readers--and definitely not only baseball fans.
(I reviewed an advance reader copy from @kidlitexchange; all opinions are my own.)
Profile Image for Amy.
116 reviews9 followers
November 3, 2018
When reading and reviewing middle grade books, I try to consider how 10 year old me would like the book. 10 year old me would absolutely have loved Out of Left Field. In fact, I'm a bit disappointed this book wasn't around when I was 10, because I'm pretty sure if it was I'd have read it so many times. While I wasn't able to enjoy this book at age 10, adult me loved it as well.
Set in San Francisco in1957-1958, Out of Left Field tells the story of a ten year old baseball player, Katy. After a Little League coach witnesses Katy's stellar pitching skills she's invited to tryout, and makes the team - until it's revealed that she's a girl, and thus in violation of the rules.
Upset that the opportunity to play Little League ball has been taken from her, Katy begins to research the history of women baseball players, discovering a story very few know about.
In addition to the sports story, this is an excellent work of historical fiction, covering Sputnik, the Space Race, and the Civil Rights movement. There is a diverse cast of characters, and many strong female characters.
As a 10 year old baseball fan, I would have loved this book. As an adult, I love this book. Baseball fans and lovers of historical fiction (of which I am both), pick this one up. It's excellent.
Profile Image for Lorie.
619 reviews9 followers
March 16, 2023
This was our March book club choice and it kind of serendipitously was appropriate for Women's History Month and the beginning of the baseball season. The book was well received by everyone. We loved Katy and her mom as a great example of parent/child positive relationships. Katy struggles with the decision of Little League not admitting girls in 1957. Her mother gives her wisely offered support so that Katy can make good decisions that allow her to confidently handle her disappointment in a way that is best for her.

As librarians we loved how the author included how library research was done before computers and the internet as it reflected when we grew up and how much work you had to do for your research assignments. The history aspect was incorporated very well and it would be fun to discuss this with young readers today.

We had a great discussion about women in sports and women's rights in general. How have things changed? In some ways very much, in others not so much.

We highly recommend this book for middle grade readers and classroom reading. It would also make a great read for adults since the book is very well written. The book includes Katy's report on the women of baseball history.
Profile Image for Heather-Lin.
1,008 reviews37 followers
January 11, 2022
The previous two books in this fantastic series focused on girls wanting to be in STEM fields. This one is about baseball...
Personally, I think baseball is about the most boring sport on earth. Perhaps tied with golf. And yet! This book is indeed all about baseball and baseball history, and it was really engaging. It was also about a 10-year-old girl, her friends, her family, and her passion for the sport, and it was wonderful. This author manages to advocate with such deftness and clarity, I hope other authors take note.
Recommended for parents and kids, of course. Also recommended for anyone who wants a cozy, good-hearted read, with the bonus of effortlessly interesting history.
Profile Image for Marcia.
3,247 reviews15 followers
December 15, 2019
This would have been my 12-year-old self's favorite book.
A terrific story of Katy Gordon, a baseball player who is prevented from playing little league because she is a girl. Through an excellent school research project, a supportive mom, and a gutsy spirit she learns the history of women playing baseball. Set pre-title IX, girls reading this will feel the injustice and just root for Katy the whole way. The great back matter highlights some of the amazing women baseball players who played in the barnstorming leagues and even in the Negro leagues. Yet in 2019, no woman has ever played in MLB. :>(
I really like Ellen Klages' work.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,071 reviews5 followers
August 4, 2018
I’m giving this book a 4.5. I really liked it; it was truly the perfect book for me. Ellen Klages combined fighting for women’s rights with a love of baseball (with statistics included), and a deep appreciation for the public library into this historical fiction chapter book. This book needed to be written. I knew there were female baseball players, and I had previously (even somewhat recently) read a biography on Edith Houghton, and I absolutely knew that MLB is so sexist, they only just recently started hiring female commentators for to call games, and to co-host baseball shows on tv, so there are definitely no women MLB players. But I enjoyed reading about so many women that were trailblazers and fought to play. I hope some day women are permitted to play in the majors, although I believe if that day comes, it will be a separate league, such as with the WNBA and the NBA.
Profile Image for Hannah Fjeld.
156 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2019
Enjoyable story of a young girl who loves to play baseball and the epic research project about women in baseball she takes on when she finds out that girls can’t play in Little League. I particularly loved the research aspect— how the project evolved (talk about a real life example of a passion project!), and the many different types of research she did—from hours in the library to interviews and more.
October 5, 2020
Marnie is especially talented in baseball but it's her best friend, Cody, who's the star of the baseball team. When Cody gets injured during a game, the team needs someone to replace him. With encouragement from Cody and their friends, Marnie finds the courage to try out for the team. This is a sweet story that I recommend to readers interested in books with romance and friendship.

- Anonymous, Grade 7
Profile Image for Sarah Smith.
Author 24 books61 followers
May 3, 2018
How many people are going to say "This is a home run"? Well, me too. Katy Gordon, 10 years old, has a great pitching arm and wants to play Little League; but she's a girl and it's 1957. She reinvents herself as "Casey," but when she's discovered, Little League officials tell her that girls have never played baseball.

Really? Is she the only one? Katy's quest to find another woman baseball player leads her to hundreds of them, and to the history-suppression that made them invisible. With the help of her mother and sisters, teachers, friends, and some of those real-life women, Katy explores the sexism and racism that are as much part of America as baseball, and learns not to ignore it nor be destroyed by it.

OUT OF LEFT FIELD doesn't flinch at the hard parts. There's a devastating scene when Katy interviews a former baseball player, clearly destroyed at the loss of her career. But the whole book is a shout of praise: to the community that helps each other, to audacity, to diversity, and, with all its faults, to baseball.

Bonuses: the wonderful scene of the last game of the San Francisco Seals; Katey's delight in research and STEM; the evocation of the first days after Sputnik; a glorious final scene in which the San Francisco Giants--but why spoil it?

I'm already making a list of the girls and women I'm giving this book to.
Profile Image for Julie.
798 reviews18 followers
July 31, 2018
The first few chapters went slowly for me, but the plot pacing picked up by chapter 7. This is a great recommendation for baseball fans, female athletes, and anyone interested in history and the (ongoing) fight for equality. The “Meet Katy’s Heroes” section provides a great overview of women in baseball.
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