Baseball, not softball!
Ten-year-old Katy is a fantastic pitcher, so great that a local Little League coach encourages her to sign up for the team. She does, but of course in 1957, girls aren't allowed to play baseball. Her mother, a university professor of nuclear chemistry, lets her know that it's a battle she can fight, but she probably won't win. The mother was a victim of McCarthy era politics who lost her job, friends, and marriage because she refused to give in to the demands of the communist witch hunt, so she knows that being right doesn't always make life easy. Still, Katy does a lot of difficult research on female baseball players, finds lots of good reasons why girls SHOULD play baseball, and tries to make her point with the Little League authorities. At the same time, her classmates are obsessed with Sputnick, her class gets a homework assignment that is watching a television program, and Katy's older sisters help her navigate life and school.
So many facets of this time period are discussed. While the facts about Sputnick and the overview of racial problems at the time (there is a Japanese-American student in Katy's class who tells about the internment situation during WWII, and mention of the Civil Rights occurrences as well) are tremendously important and interesting, combined with the wealth of information about women in baseball, it is a lot to understand for readers who may have no background knowledge of this time period. The notes on different players at the end of the book were very helpful.
Baseball and softball fans will love this look at a time gone by. Combine this with the nonfiction books Houts' Kammie on first : baseball's Dottie Kamenshek and Green's A strong right arm : the story of Mamie "Peanut" Johnson for more in depth information on players, and with the fiction books Butler's Sliding Into Home, Day's No Cream Puffs, and the more recent Alpine's You Throw Like a Girl for those who just like a good baseball story!