Cal Ripken Jr. writes novel "Hothead"
Cal Ripken Jr. made his name on the baseball diamond with a consecutive-game streak that surpassed the record held by Lou Gehrig for decades. Now, he's trying his hand at fiction, with a YA book co-authored by Baltimore Sun columnist Kevin Cowherd.
"Hothead" is about 12-year-old Connor Sullivan, who stars on his team, but flies into a rage after a strikeout or error. (No comment from Cal on the autobiographical nature of the story line. But if he acted that way as a kid, he left the tantrums behind when he made it to the Baltimore Orioles.) Here's an excerpt from a review by Diane Scharper, who teaches at Towson University:
"With his father hunting for jobs and his mom logging long hours at the hospital, Connor is on his own. Loyal to his family and embarrassed by their financial situation, he refuses to confide in anyone else, including Coach, who, sensing the boy's emotional turmoil, reaches out to him.
"Connor's attitude toward his parents is refreshing. 'Hothead' is anything but a "blame-mom-and-pop story." Connor knows that he's responsible for his errors and his outbursts of anger. Even when his coach upbraids him for his loss of control, Connor doesn't lash out against him. Instead, he apologizes and tries to do better — until the next time.
"It might be somewhat hard to believe that a boy in middle school could at one moment act so immaturely and at the next seem so grown up and responsible. Yet this is the nature of the seventh-grader, and the authors capture it well.
"As in real life, Connor's difficulties tend to multiply exponentially. Stress causes him to make mistakes, and these lead to eruptions of temper that result in his temporary suspension from the team. Soon it looks as though he's going to be dropped — permanently. If this happens, not only will the Orioles lose the pennant, since Connor even at his worst is their star player. But Connor will also lose his opportunity to participate in a sport that means almost everything to him."