Celebrating Diversity in Baseball

With summer now in full swing, the baseball season is upon us! I love baseball; both of my kids play baseball so most of my nights are spent at a baseball diamond these days, and lately I find myself drawn to books and movies about this iconic summer sport. Here are a few of my latest picks…introduced by wise words by the some of the game’s most famous players.

“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” – Babe Ruth

Bunt!: Striking Out on Financial Aid

by Ngozi Ukase; illustrated by Mad Rupert


Bunt! is one of those endearing stories about a rag tag group of people coming together to achieve a common goal. Molly Bauer is VERY excited to be headed off to art college with a full scholarship, however, she unfortunately finds out at the 11th hour that her scholarship has been discontinued for the year and she has no financial aid. Too scared to tell her moms, she decides she wants to figure this one out on her own. In studying the fine details about her school’s scholarships, she comes to realize that if she can form a sports team and they can win at least one game, the students on the team will qualify for financial support. Molly’s new mission:  create a softball team, find 9 players and a coach…and win one game.  You’ll have to read this fun and engaging teen graphic novel to find out if Molly and this team of crafty art students succeed!

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“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.” – Yogi Berra

The Prospects

by KT Hoffman


The Prospects, a novel by KT Hoffman, is my second baseball pick, and while it is a fictional account it gives us hope of what is to come. Gene Ionescu is the first openly trans player for the Beaverton Beavers, a minor league team based in Oregon. Gene is enjoying his time on the Beavers, he has supportive teammates, a great female coach and a cool place to hang his hat, living with his teammate, Vince, and their partner near Portland.

As a new season begins things change for Gene as his arch nemesis and former college teammate, Luis Estrada, joins the team. Luis is quickly given Gene’s position at short stop and brings a negative vibe to the team, which with Gene being a true-blue optimist doesn’t sit well. They go through a big losing streak until Gene firmly decides that the team can turn things around. Early in the book, Luis seems to be annoyed by Gene in a very Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet kind of way, which of course, is quite adorable. With that in mind, you won’t be surprised to hear that a romance starts to flame as we come to learn that Luis and Gene have more in common than may first appear. Hoffman is big baseball fan and so his immersive writing allows us to delve deep into what life is like for professional minor league baseball players, mixed with a love story and a great sense of humour, it is definitely a home run!

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 “In playing ball, and in life, a person occasionally gets the opportunity to do something great. When that time comes, only two things matter: being prepared to seize the moment and having the courage to take your best swing.” – Hank Aaron

The League


My last pick is a non-fiction film titled The League. You may want to watch this one in honour of baseball great Willie Mays, who recently passed away on June 18th, 2024 at the age of 93. Mays played 23 years in Major League Baseball (MLB) and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. His career began in the Negro leagues in 1948 though, when he was just 16 years old, and these leagues are the subject of this fascinating documentary.

Documentaries that make use of engaging storytelling are always my favourite and this one does just that merging spectacular interviews with baseball historians, writers and players. Along with mesmerizing old photos and footage of the athletes, this incredibly well researched film tells the tale of the Negro leagues which sprung up in the US starting in 1920 due to segregation laws preventing black players from joining MLB. The leagues were incredibly popular and successful for a time (there was even a Negro World Series,) and it is captivating to learn of their evolution over the decades. The leagues were made up of extremely dedicated players who often played three or four games a day and sometimes had to sleep in ball parks due to the lack of hotels accepting black patrons at the time. Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough into MLB in 1947 when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers brought a change to all of this, but it was slow to come and not felt by everyone. The League tells such an important story, and it makes for a great watch.

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Kelly I.
Library Assistant, Main Library

Kelly has the great pleasure of spending her time as a Library Assistant at the Main Library. Her favourite things about working at WPL are getting to experience amazing new books all the time, and then write about some of her favourites for the Check It Out blog. When she is away from the library, Kelly loves spending time with her family, who are big into hiking and taking in the great outdoors. Kelly majored in art history at university and so she also loves to immerse herself in all things arts and culture. Her favourite way to spend a Sunday is at an art gallery and then lounging at a café afterwards with a latte in one hand and a great book in the other.