Uncle Drew and the Bat Dodger

Written by Thomas Cochran
Review by Wendy Zollo

Nine-year-old Teddy Caldwell breaks the window of his new neighbor, Andrew “Uncle Drew” Weems, while playing baseball, and an unlikely bond develops between the youngster and the elderly gentleman. This friendship is destined to be full of curious and illuminating stories. Uncle Drew’s account of his time with BoPeep Shines, “the best pitcher he ever saw,” opens up Teddy’s view to the years when the Negro League existed so African-Americans could play organized baseball, and to the time when people of color couldn’t ride on the same train, use the same bathroom, or eat and sleep in the same establishments as whites. Uncle Drew neither glorifies nor glosses over his accounts. They are straightforward with some hurtful and awful aspects, and others are silly and dangerously amusing.

However, the friendship is also purely fun and deeply meaningful as the two discover their common likes centered on their mutual love of baseball. They abundantly accept each other as individuals, and their quiet enjoyment in each other’s company is palpable.

Uncle Drew and the Bat Dodger is wonderfully written. Its language is full of spirit and thick with resolve and confidence. It is highly recommended.