Out Standing in My Field

Out Standing in My Field

Book - 2005
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Although fifth-grader Ty Cutter is named after baseball great Ty Cobb, he is the worst player on the Brewer's team--which happens to be coached by his overly-competitive father.
Publisher: New York : Scholastic, 2005.
ISBN: 9780439465816
0439465818
Characteristics: 165 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm.

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FindingJane Sep 08, 2015

At first, this book seems to have potential to be a real winner. The premise is an interesting one—the entire story that takes place over a single baseball game. Like Nicholson Baker’s “The Mezzanine”, that forms much of its initial quirkiness. However, that novelty wears off quickly. You have to be a real baseball fan to love this book. It is mercifully short. But, like a baseball game that goes on for extra innings, it can seem to go on forever. The baseball jargon is indecipherable to anybody out of the loop; the odd bits of math thrown in are nearly as puzzling. Ty Cutter (named because of his father’s mania for all things Ty Cobb) isn’t a happy camper. He adores baseball; he just can’t play worth a damn. That dichotomy in his feelings and his abilities is what drives this novel and what causes his inner turmoil and outer dilemma. His sister Daisy—who is almost as incomprehensible a character as her brother—serves as a kind of psychological spokesperson; she understands fully his complete mental anguish. He, on the other hand, is fast turning into the kind of male who is so out of touch with his feelings as to be incapable of recognizing them even when they’re laid out by another human being. That makes sense; he’s only 11, after all. But you can see where this is headed. He’s desperate to please his father. He cringes at the sight of his mother waving to him from the stands. He thinks it’s fine to be enthusiastic about things; you’re just not allowed to show it because other guys don’t think it’s cool, etc., etc., etc. A real John Wayne type without John Wayne’s innate toughness. At first, it’s hard not to be annoyed at Ty’s reluctance (read: terror) about talking to his father about quitting. Actually, Ty appears terrified about doing anything that might rattle his father. At first, we think his dad might be physically abusive. He certainly appears to be emotionally abusive, sneering at anything he doesn’t think to be manly enough (forcing Ty to quit oboe for tuba because reeds are for sissies). He secretly drinks, a subject that gains greater dramatic weight as the story progresses. So is he physically abusive? That would be telling. In the end, Ty gains a modicum of courage or rather scrappiness. Anybody hoping that he’ll quit baseball altogether or for an epic scene in which he confronts his father with his true feelings will be in for a letdown, though. This isn’t that kind of book. But there is a note of individuality about Ty now and that’s the best we can hope for at this point.

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navy_shark_215 Sep 08, 2015

navy_shark_215 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 13

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