Lenny is thrilled that he has won the Armchair Announcer contest and gets to meet the announcers for the Phillies and work at a game. He's not a good baseball player, but he's a great announcer and knows his baseball history-- for his audition tape, he and his friends Mike and Other Mike have dug up an obscure story about the worst pitcher ever, Blaze O'Farrell, who happens to still be living in their hometown. While at the game, the new and promising pitcher, R.J. Weathers, drops dead on the mound. Everyone assumes it was just a heart problem, but it looks fishy to Lenny and his friends, and they launch into an investigation. With the help of the local librarians niece, Maria (who is a huge baseball fan herself), the group looks into a variety of threats and manages to solve the mystery.
Berk has a couple of good young adult mysteries (The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, Josh Langan: Crime Scene Procrastinator), but I think he has really has a great voice for middle grade literature. Lenny is a hoot, and I loved that both of his friends were named Mike! They al get excited about things and go off half-prepared, and it is always funny. Maria is a great character-- a strong girl that Lenny has a little bit of a crush on. Side characters, like the announcers, the librarian, and the parents are all amusing and just quirky enough to be funny and not annoying. The mystery is a bit improbable, but has a nice twist, and working baseball into the story is great. I would love to see another book involving these characters. The cover is especially nice-- striking and won't date. Brilliant.