The Childern's Bookshelf: Out of Left Field

Aug 3, 2018

Out of Left Field written by Ellen Klages, is an energetic story about one girl’s determination to play in the Little League. Ten-year-old Kathleen Curie Gordan is spotted by a coach looking for ballplayers for the 1958 Little League season. So as not to draw attention to the fact that she is a girl, she gives her name, using her initials K and C, as Casey Gordan. She had been playing with neighborhood boys’ teams where she honed her “sort of curving knuckleball.” Try-outs go wonderfully well, she lands a spot on the Little League team and is told she will pitch the first game!

Her elation lasts only a brief time, however, when another player, jealous of her baseball skills, tells the authorities that she is a girl. A call from Little League informs her mother that girls cannot play as stated in the rule book. Katy and her mother take a look at the rule book and find it says, “Girls are not eligible”.

Katy decides to write a letter to the Little League requesting that she be allowed to play. Her mother gives her plenty of support. Response to Katy’s letter, however, is still negative and filled with silly reasons for the decision.

This causes Katy to do more research as to why girls should be allowed to play. She reads about incredible women baseball players such as the pitcher for The Chattanooga Lookouts Jackie Mitchell and Toni Stone, the first woman to play in the Negro Leagues, whom she eventually meets. There are 12 excellent short biographies of women baseball players featured in the back materials.

Out of Left Field written in a lively style by Ellen Klages and set in the late 1950s when integration of schools in the South was being attempted, is designed for ages 9-12 (Viking Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Random House, 2018).

Questions for Out of Left Field

There are 12 biographical sketches of the first women baseball players in the back of the book under the section titled Meet Katy’s Heroes. Read through them and select one women to research further. The author has provided a reading list and some websites that could be useful to you. Look for more pictures of your selected player in and out of uniform and further history including batting scores, quotations and highlights of her career. When you have gathered everything make a scrapbook dedicated to this woman baseball player.

In 1972, Title 9 was signed into existence by President Nixon. What did it say and how did it affect athletic programs receiving federal funding?   Create a poster that informs people of this new law. Use baseball quotations, symbols and your imagination.

There is a 1992 movie entitled A League of Her Own. Have you ever seen it? It is a fictional treatment featuring women baseball players. It is available on the web from a variety of places. Parents can help you locate it if you need assistance.