Betsy’s Day at the Game–Interview of author Greg Bancroft
By Greg Bancroft; illustrated by Katherine Blackmore
Mighty Media Press, 2013; ages 6-10
Betsy and her grandpa revel in baseball in the picture book Betsy’s Day at the Game. “In the middle of the crowded city, the brick walls opened up to reveal a beautiful baseball diamond. Like a pop-up book. It was magic.”
Millions of Americans will agree in the midst of an exciting World Series season—baseball brings families together. Author Greg Bancroft believes baseball can not only enhance inter-generational relationships, but also boost confidence in young girls
Greg agreed to answer some questions raised for me when I reviewed Betsy’s Day at the Game. (Read the full book review here.)
The giveaway has ended. Mighty Media Press gave away two copies of his book to commentors on this post!
Interview of author Greg Bancroft—
In your story of an inter-generational day at the ball park, the young grand-daughter demonstrates how to score the game and the grandfather tests and reinforces her knowledge. You are teaching the reader how to score in the process.
Knowing how to score baseball seems to empower Betsy and enhance her enjoyment—was it your goal to give girls the same knowledge?
Definitely. Scoring is almost a lost art. There is so much going on, so much strategy, and directions to any game can be so ridiculously difficult to understand.
I was inspired to use a baseball game, and our family always journaled in the margins of the scorebooks—they contain the history of our family. So I pitched the idea of sharing family history in the context of baseball to my publisher.
Eleven year old girls in my focus group learned to score from the picture book with no coaching!
You emphasize the older generation sharing baseball traditions with younger traditions in the story. Are there baseball traditions in your family?
I passed on scoring and journaling to my daughter and grandchildren. Betsy is really a composite of them. My own grandfather didn’t talk much, but he talked about baseball. I was the only one to hit a home run one day at age ten, and by the time I got to his hardware store he already knew.
He chose to take me, not a friend, to a World Series game back when the Twins were brand new to Minnesota. Sandy Colfax pitched a three hit game on only two days rest. I’ve never been to a World Series game since, but I’d love to!
Do you feel kids, particularly girls, benefit from playing baseball?
I really do. Team camaraderie is so important—it takes a whole team to win or lose. Baseball is so accepting and forgiving. You never know who is going to step up, and you have to support each other.
“Nice pitch! Good eye!”
It’s the only sport where you can fail more often than you succeed and still be a super star.
Girls can start early and size and shape don’t matter. Baseball is great for girls’ self-esteem. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s what you can do.
I love learning you consulted a group of eleven year old girls! What else did you learn from your focus group?
The girls commented on how Betsy’s tongue was sticking out at times. They were concerned with how they looked and this confirmed my understanding of girls that age.
We asked, “what do you think Betsy was thinking about when she caught the ball? It was quite a feat, catching the ball in the midst of a crowd. Grandpa helped steady her, but he didn’t do it for her. He knew she would do her best.”
We talked about how focused she was. Her tongue sticking out showed how hard she was concentrating. That lesson is now included in the Educator’s Guide for Betsy’s Day at the Game. (sorry, link to educ guide not working-awaiting new)
The grandfather in your story celebrates the chance to spend time with Betsy. He fills important roles such as teacher, cheerleader and family historian. Tell us about time with your own grandkids, and your stories.
I was a Navy chaplain and a pastor for years, and there were always chances to share stories with children—in Sunday school, camps and retreats. Then my own kids, and now I have three grandchildren living in Nashville and Boston.
I have a journal for each one, mainly observations of life and of the kids and eventually I’ll give them to the grandkids. The journal will end up in their lap someday, as now they’re in my lap themselves.
Thank you Greg, last question! I’m guessing you prefer outdoor baseball, but do you have a favorite ball park?
Oh yeah! Target Field in Minneapolis. It’s in the city in the thick of things, natural turf and a nice layout. Great food, customer friendly and eco-friendly.
Penny Marshall, actress, film director, and producer for the movie “A League of Their Own” calls this lovely picture book, “An entertaining book about baseball and passing traditions down through generations.”
We gave away two copies of Betsy’s Day at the Game to commentors-–courtesy of publisher Mighty Media Press. Winners Patricia and Katy were drawn out of a hat (a baseball cap of course!)
And here is a link to fun facts about the film “A League of Their Own.”