By: Serena Kappes
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: January 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 11, 2012
Even as a very young child Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez was fascinated by anything baseball. The two-year-old "carried around a red plastic bat and swung at everything he could." That didn't bode well for the household furnishings, but his family was proud and amused by his passion. His father was especially interested because at one time he was a player on a Dominican Republic baseball team. Alex's intense interest in baseball pushed him ahead of his peers and by the age of six he was "playing with boys three and four years older than he was." His parents, Lourdes Navarro and Victor Rodriguez, undoubtedly expected great things from Alex, even though he was a sandlot player.
Although Alex had been born in Manhattan, the family's good fortune had allowed them to move back to the Dominican Republic to enjoy the good life they wanted. Soon financial misfortune came upon them and they lost everything. Forced to sell their home and move to Kendall, Florida, the family was unsettled. The once happy family was devastated when Victor abruptly abandoned them, never to return. Lourdes was left alone to tend to Alex and his siblings, Susy and Joe. Adrift in a place they knew little about, it was going to be a struggle.
Baseball, no doubt, was a solace to Alex. Juan Diego Artega, a youth baseball league coach, eventually drew Alex under his wing, creating a mentorship that would boost his spirits. Another coach at the Hank Cline Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, Eddy Rodriguez also gave him hope. Eddy told Alex, "Believe in yourself, but ask more of yourself. This will sustain you in times both good and bad." There would be a mix of both. In this book you'll learn about his dedication to the game as a young man, how he honed his skills, his mother's critical support, his high school career, how he was "bombarded" with offers, his agent, when he was drafted, his multi-million dollar contracts, his amazing career, and you'll learn many other interesting facts about one of baseball's greats.
In this very well written, concise biography young readers will get to know a lot about Alex and his passion for baseball. I especially enjoyed reading about the people who inspired him, on and off the field. His mother's unending encouragement, as well as that of his coaches, undoubtedly did much to make him into the player he is today. A prophetic statement by Coach Rich Hofman clearly indicated not only his sheer talent, but also what can happen when adults believe in young people: "Well, tenth grade you had an OK year. Next year everyone will get to know you, and in twelfth grade you'll be the number one pick in the country." The book is generously illustrated with photographs, period USA TODAY articles, and numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, Alex's career statistics (1994 to 2011), extensive source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is a fascinating look at Alex Rodriguez, one of baseball's "greatest all-around" players.