“Ruby found herself looking down at her arms and thinking. I bet I could throw harder than that.” (Diamond Ruby, Wallace)
I’ve been a baseball fan my entire life! More specifically I’ve been a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan! Yes, I bleed Cubby Blue. Sad to say another season will be winding down in the next couple of months – yes, it’s another “wait til next year” for me. Speaking of baseball – when I discovered what Diamond Ruby by Joe Wallace was about I jumped at the chance to read and review it! Along with my review I’m offering you a chance to win a copy of Diamond Ruby! In order to enter the contest all you need to do is leave a comment here at my blog letting me know who your all time favorite baseball player is and why. The book give away contest will run until this Saturday. I’m anxious to share a copy of Diamond Ruby with one lucky reader!
Early on in my reading of Diamond Ruby, I knew I was going to love and eagerly devour this story. I found myself cheering on Ruby Lee Thomas – just as if I were cheering my Cubbies onto a late inning rally at the “Beautiful Confines” of Wrigley Field! I am confidant once you pick up Diamond Ruby to read you won’t be able to put it down. The story begins at Ebbets Fields with seven-year-old Ruby and her family attending a Yankee’s baseball game. To Ruby it was the most beautiful place she had ever laid eyes on. To Ruby’s surprise she is lucky enough to experience every young child’s dream – and even adults – she catches a ball that is hit off of the bat of Casey Stengel! “It felt comfortable in her hand, solid and substantial. Again and again she looked down at it and once or twice, when no one was looking, she pulled her left arm back and imagined she was a baseball pitcher.” (Diamond Ruby, Wallace)
In Ruby’s own words she thinks, “I’m happy.” “The date was April 5, 1913. Ruby was seven. It was the first time she could remember having that thought, and the last.” (Diamond Ruby, Wallace) Ruby and her family soon face a magnitude of hardships. The Spanish Influenza engulfs New York leaving almost every family scarred by it. By the time she’s thirteen she becomes responsible for her family. One would think it would be next to impossible – an undertaking too difficult for such a young girl as Ruby. You’ll soon discover Ruby’s inner strength and what she’ll do to protect her family. Ruby remembers her mother’s words of advice, “Do what you want to do and don’t care what anyone thinks about you. Show the world that women matter as much as men….” (Diamond Ruby, Wallace)
I tend to tell too much about a novel due to my excitement for the work of fiction so I will skirt around the story to tell you some of the enticing highlights. Wallace has done a superb job bringing the time period, the places and the people to life in Diamond Ruby. Brooklyn New York, Coney Island and Yankee Stadium are just a few of the backdrops for Ruby’s tale. The women’s suffragette movement, the Roaring Twenties, gangsters, Prohibition, the Klu Klux Klan, baseball, and the Spanish Influenza are interwoven into the story. Then there are those well-known sports figures such as Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey who become part of Ruby’s life. Ruby is a champion and a brave young woman. Ruby’s talent if you haven’t guessed by now is in her long arms and those arms take her on a journey she never would have imagined. She could throw a baseball as well as any man. Her other talent is one of endurance. Just when you think she’s beat she has something up her sleeve to help her rally. Just like in a baseball game when your team is down with two outs in the ninth inning! You will love Ruby’s story of survival and the role she played in the game of baseball!
Joe Wallace was inspired to write Diamond Ruby based on the real life story of the female pitcher, Jackie Mitchell. The year was 1931, sixteen-year-old Jackie Mitchell, was baseball’s very first woman pitcher. She pitched against and struck out these two legendary baseball players, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Unfortunately for Jackie, the very first baseball commissioner at the time, Judge Kenesaw Landis, banned her as well as all women from playing organized baseball because he considered the sport to be too arduous. I first learned about Jackie Mitchell from a children’s book, Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen by Marissa Moss. Since it was published in 2004, I have read it aloud to 3rd grade students each and every year in the library. I highly recommend you find this book for your child.
“Ruby,” he said, “the world’s got to find out about you.” (Diamond Ruby, Wallace) I look forward to you discovering this gem of a story! I think the word is out and many have already read Diamond Ruby’s “scouting report” – don’t you miss out on this book.