Kit's Home Run

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Walter Rane, Renee Graef, Susan McAliley, and Phillip Hood


Kit and Stirling are playing catch in the yard, talking about their favorite baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. While going for a wild throw, Kit crashes into Mrs. Howard's rose trellis, crushing the plants. Mrs. Howard is upset, and scolds the children for playing such a rambunctious game. Don't they know that Stirling is delicate, and that girls shouldn't do such unladylike things? Kit's genuinely sorry about the rose bushes, but things Mrs. Howard is exaggerating about baseball being bad. Stirling's health isn't as bad as she thinks it is, and baseball is fun plus good exercise. Kit uncharitably thinks to herself that all Mrs. Howard does around the house is clean her room and tend the rosebushes. She doesn't do any other chores, now that Aunt Millie does them. Stirling himself has a job selling newspapers: he's more useful than his mother.

A short time later, Kit and some of her friends play a pick-up game of baseball. Kit hits a home run with the bases loaded: a grand slam! But in diving for home, she ends up with a black eye and a cut lip. Her dress is covered in dirt and blood, but her wounds are fairly superficial at least. She heads home, but once there remembers that the only person home is Mrs. Howard. How is she supposed to help Kit? But Mrs. Howard, who volunteers at the hospital, quickly gets Kit cleaned up and inspects her injuries, gently comforting her as she does so. Kit's split lip needs stitches, and walks her to the hospital (no money for a cab). Kit's grateful for Mrs. Howard's fussiness now; it's nice to be taken care of when not feeling well. Mrs. Howard admits that it's nice to feel useful again. While they're waiting for a doctor, Mrs. Howard rinses out the washcloth Kit's been holding on her lip using the sink in the back of the gift shop. She and Kit chat a bit with the owner, who mentions that his wife is home with their two-week-old baby, and the plants in the gift shop have been suffering for it. Kit points out that Mrs. Howard is an avid gardener, and ends up getting her a job at the gift shop. Mrs. Howard doesn't mind baseball so much now!

To thank Kit, Mrs. Howard saves up some of her money and takes her and Stirling to a Cincinnati Reds game. Kit's favorite player hits a grand slam, and Kit explains to Mrs. Howard that his one run allowed three other players to score. She's not sure that Mrs. Howard understands, until on the way home Mrs. Howard comments that because of Kit's home run earlier, four good things happened: she got a job, she doesn't fuss over Stirling so much, Kit's parents have more rent money coming in, and Kit got to see a baseball game. Her grand slam really was grand.

Looking Back

Baseball has long been America's national pastime. During the Great Depression, people were still interested in the sport, but many couldn't afford tickets. Because of the lost revenue, some teams went bankrupt. The owner of the Cincinnati Reds was struggling to make ends meet, and didn't want to trade his better players because the team already had a poor record. He started scheduling the games for the evening, which allowed more people to attend after they finished their work day (here in Seattle, the Mariners usually start at 7:10 on weekdays; the team was formed in the 1970s). That was a huge success, and the stadium was often sold out. Baseball stayed popular even during World War II when many players were off fighting in the war. A women's league was formed and people gathered to watch them play. Kit would have been old enough to try out.


"Kit's split lip." Say that five times fast!

The player who hits the grand slam, Ernie Lombardi, was a real player. He had a great batting average (.306, best ever is Ty Cobb's .366; Lombardi ranks #123 of all time to date) and hit 190 home runs in his career, six of them grand slams.

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