Betsy’s Day at the Game


Betsy’s Day at the Game by Greg Bancroft; illustrated by Katherine Blackmore. Scarletta Kids, now Mighty Media Press, 2013; Fiction for ages 6-10 (Baseball, baseball scoring, grandparents, intergenerational)

betsy-cover-v4-for-PGW-300x240It’s spring! It’s baseball season! “What do you like the most—smelling the grass, reading the scoreboard, or watching the people?”

In the picture book Betsy’s Day at the Game, Betsy and her grandpa put it all together, and come to the conclusion, “it doesn’t get much better.” Both the joys and intricacies of baseball are celebrated. From my perspective the only thing missing is the peanuts, but it’s surely positive that the focus is not on food.

A grand slam home run may be less rare than a picture book unnamed (3)portrayal of a warm intergenerational relationship paired with a dynamic illustration of healthy aging. And the ketchup on the hotdog? A young girl enjoying baseball!

Betsy’s grandpa treats her to a day at the ball park (outdoors of course) where he reinforces his previous lessons as she tracks runs, strikes, foul balls, home runs, and favorite players in her special score book. A child learns new skills from an older adult and verbalizes her appreciation for Grandpa’s “smarts.”

unnamed (1)


The plot of intergenerational books frequently revolve around a child helping an older adult in some way. I would never advocate that we not teach kids to empathize or help others. But far too often the messages equate growing older with growing dependent, grumpy, or forgetful—which does not do justice to our Third Age!


Grandpa and Betsy’s affection radiates from the pages as they relish their time at the field. Author Greg Bancroft even shows us a soft-hearted grandpa “blinking hard” singing the National Anthem, and after Betsy compliments his knowledge of baseball scoring. We learn that Grandpa has been keeping score since he was Betsy’s age.

unnamed (2)This book actually teaches kids the scoring “codes” and use of a score card in step by step fashion. We know children love secret codes—learning baseball’s codes is sure to create a sense of accomplishment.

I was a bit intimidated knowing I was going to finally learn what all the letters and numbers mean (because, confession time—I’m generally people watching and fetching the Frosty Malts). My dad grew up playing cricket and rugby, so sadly baseball was just not a part of my upbringing. But it’s integrated so well into the story and illustrations by Katherine Blackmore are perfect for the job–it was painless!

unnamedThe story is jazzed up by events like a high pitch hit by The Crusher that heads straight for Betsy! Grabbing her glove she catches it to the cheers of the crowd. I also love the fact that their favorite player, “Happy” Rodriquez, is touted not only for his skill, but for his terrific attitude.

Betsy turns her cap inside out and backward for luck, but their unnamed (4)team is losing and it’s the 9th inning with just one more chance to score. “But it’s not over until it’s over,” says Grandpa, and sure enough, before long bases are loaded and Happy Rodriguez hits a grand slam home run to win the game.

Tired but happy they head home to Mom who shows Betsy “a very worn and yellowed score book” given to her by her dad at the same age. Just like Betsy she had kept score, scribbled notes about her week in the margins, AND caught a ball at the game!

Summer 2012 294

Both the author and Mighty Media Press reside in Minneapolis, and the outdoor ball park illustrated reminds me of the Twin Cities’ Target Field.

When our son was young the Twin Cities had controversial indoor baseball at “the Dome”—which would spit you out the door in the whirlwind of pressure required to keep the enormous roof up. Keep in mind this was Minnesota and snow collapsed that dome at least once!

That's Kay up to bat! And her twin sister catching.

That’s Kay up to bat! And her twin sister catching.

On my husband’s side, baseball is HUGE. His mom Kay rarely missed a Minnesota Twins game—listening to most on the radio like many of her generation. She and her twin sister Marg even played soft ball in an early women’s league—and her twin ended up marrying the coach!

Two of Kay’s grandkids got their gloves at age two and reveled in three generations sharing memories, skills, and their love of baseball. How they would have loved this special book. Here’s to baseball—bringing the generations together! Pass the peanuts!

There is an extensive Educator’s Activity Guide for this book from Mighty Media.

Read about the vital roles of grandparents in modern society in this article by Olivia Gentile.

In the picture book Take Me Out to the Ball Game by Maryann Kovalski a grandmother takes her granddaughters to a game.

Perfect-Pic-Book-BadgeCheck out Perfect Picture Book Fridays at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site for more wonderful picture books!

I received a review copy from the publisher. All images used with permission of Mighty Media Press. Thanks to Gail in St. Paul for the tip off to this lovely book.

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21 Responses to Betsy’s Day at the Game

  1. What a great baseball book that features a girl enjoying the game. We need more books featuring girls and baseball. Great illustrations that give you feel of the game. Perfect for this time of the year when Little League is beginning.

    • lindseymcd says:

      Agreed Patricia! It’s really fun to see a girl and her grandpa bonding over baseball!
      Thanks for stopping by! Lindsey

  2. Tiffa says:

    This looks like a great book for baseball lovers and those who are not yet baseball lovers. I’m impressed that this book also comments on a character’s terrific attitude. Yes, please! I’m a big fan of Mighty Media Press and look forward to checking out this book. Thank you for the recommendation and review!

    • lindseymcd says:

      You are so right Tiffa! This little book hit the ball out of the park! Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Joanna says:

    A girl, a baseball game and a grandpa. A great combo for a good story.

  4. Looks like this one hits a line drive! Cannot get enough of the intergenerational stories, for sure, and what’s not to like about the game, the girl and her gramps! The adorable illustrations beautifully top that BallPark Frank, don’t they? Thanks for scouting out this winner.

  5. I will have to get a copy! I was the statistician for my high school boys baseball team. It was fun to be the one who decided on hits and errors!

  6. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Well, I’m a Cubs fan who grew up going to games with my family. Loved the peanuts and frosty malts! Loved the ivy. Loved Wrigley field. Love the idea of a little girl learning baseball from her grandfather. Goes along with the “Giants beat the Royals” parody of Royals where she sings “I grew up going to the games with my daddy.” I always tear up when I hear it. 😀

    Anyway, great book! Love the cover and how she’s stretching to catch a foul ball. Kids dream of doing that.

    I never learned how to use those fancy scorecards, so it will be interesting to see how it’s done. Thanks for highlighting!

    • lindseymcd says:

      What a fun and heartfelt comment Jilanne! The iconic Wrigley Field–lucky you! Thanks for sharing lovely memories and enjoy learning how to score. It’s never too late!

  7. Manju Howard says:

    Thanks for sharing a picture book that shows a positive child/grandpa relationship.
    I kept the scorebook for my H.S. softball team many moons ago.

    • lindseymcd says:

      I’m so impressed by all these woman who played and scored softball years ago–good for you! Thanks for your comment!

  8. Keila Dawson says:

    As a baseball mama, I say yes! Both son and daughter played. My daughter played on a boys team till age 12. It’s definitely ”America’s” sport. Can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for your review.

  9. Mary Coffman says:

    Thanks, Lindsey. Delightful post!

    As the daughter of the catcher in the Twin Stars photo (and Lindsey’s cousin by marriage) I can attest to the positive power of family and baseball. Along with sharing their love of the game, Marg & Kay left their children and grandchildren with happy memories of Minnesota Twins World Series won and celebrated together. I’m sure we all still have our Homer Hankies tucked away somewhere!

    • lindseymcd says:

      I love your comment Mary! It’s been fun to receive emails from other family members who enjoyed baseball memories–Marg and Kay were truly Twin Stars.

  10. Marianna says:

    I’m excited to discover this blog today — I have a lot of books to check into, it seems!

    I cannot wait to enjoy baseball with our grandchildren — and to pass on the skills of keeping a scorecard! I used to attend Cincinnati Reds games at the old Crosley Field and my father taught me HIS method of scorekeeping. I passed that on to my three and will be thrilled to keep the tradition alive through another generation. Must admit I’m not sure whether to use the new-fangled approach or the old-fashioned one…

    Thanks for a great blog!!

    • lindseymcd says:

      A special family method of score keeping! How fun–that’s a true secret code! Either way you’ll be passing a deep love of baseball to another generation. Enjoy!

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