Jack and Larry

9 07 2012

I enjoy baseball books, but this is a very different sort of baseball book.  Jack and Larry: Jack Graney and Larry, the Cleveland Baseball Dog is not so much about the game as it is about the relationships we form in sports.

Barbara Gregorich is a local author who has an affinity for unique baseball stories.  Her previous book is about a women’s baseball league in the 1940s and this one is about a baseball dog.

Yup, you read that right – a baseball dog.  You see, Jack Graney was the Cleveland Naps’ (this is before they were the Indians) left fielder and lead off hitter.  The team was bad.  Real bad.  Jack felt a great deal of that was because of the lack of camaraderie on the team.  Then in 1912, the team’s trainer won a bull-terrier in a card game.  He brought the dog, Larry, to the ballpark and he became the team’s mascot.

Slowly, Larry brought the team together.  They started to play like more of a unit, more like a real team.  It took some time, but they improved in the standings.

This book is about the team while Jack and Larry are there – from 1912 until the early 1920s, how the team fares during that time period, and the relationship built between man and dog, as well as the friendship Jack has with some of his famous teammates (Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, and Ray Chapman.

The whole book is written in a very simple, free verse poem form that feels like a baseball historian is having a very relaxing conversation with the reader.

It’s a great book for baseball fans, fans of novels written in verse, and history buffs.  The best part is that it tells an unknown piece of baseball history in a very unique way.  As much as I know about baseball (and a few years ago I read a pretty long adult book about the 1920 Indians season), I hadn’t heard of Jack Graney and never knew Cleveland had Larry as a mascot, and even without Larry, Jack is a pretty interesting guy – first batter to face Babe Ruth, first player to wear a number on his uniform, and the first former player to become a major league broadcaster.  I highly recommend this one.

I’m on a mission.  I want to read 90 books in 90 days this summer.  Jack and Larry was #34.

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One response

11 07 2012
Barbara Gregorich

Thank you so much for the wonderful review of Jack and Larry. I’m very happy that the story touched you. And you’re right: as I wrote the book, I did feel as if I were having a relaxed, almost playful (but serious) conversation with the reader.

Good luck in your 90-books-in-90-days pursuit!

Barbara Gregorich

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