Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team Book Poster Image
Heartwarming true story of brothers and teammates.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Brothers at Bat describes a real-life all-brother baseball team, and readers will learn about the positions on a baseball team, gender roles in sports in the 1920s through the '40s, and generally about American family life during this period. The book also touches on the occurrence of World War II.

Positive Messages

In Brothers at Bat, literally, the family that plays together stays together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Acerras set a stellar example for children with their teamwork, patriotism, and kindness to one another. In the author's note, readers learn of the family's continuing generosity: One of the brothers founded a city recreational league for kids Another cooks an "open-door-policy" dinner for family members and others three nights each week.

Violence & Scariness

During a game, one of the Acerras, Alfred, is hit in the face by a pitch and loses an eye as a result. Illustrations show him knocked to the ground, rushed away in an ambulance, and later playing catcher again with an eye patch.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team is a picture book that tells the true-life story of the Acerra brothers, America's longest-running all-brothers baseball team. The brothers, who were honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, are portrayed as devoted teammates, family members, and patriots; the team only stops playing when six of the brothers join the military during World War II. Through the story and Steven Salerno's vintage-style illustrations, readers will learn about gender roles and historical events during the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. One upsetting incident occurs: A brother is hit in the face by a pitch and loses an eye, but he's later shown back behind the plate as a catcher with an eye patch. An author's note at the end of the book updates readers on some of the Acerras, who continue to display the values of generosity and citizenship that they exemplified as young men.

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What's the story?

BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM tells the story of the Acerra brothers, who played on a baseball team together as children and young adults. The story begins in the 1920s; the boys progress from backyard games to high school team sports, and then to semi-professional ball in 1938, when the oldest nine brothers formed a touring team. Along the way, the brothers display exemplary teamwork and good sportsmanship. In 1939, the Acerras appear at the World's Fair in New York, where they're honored as New Jersey's biggest family. Later, Albert Acerra is hit in the face with a pitch during a game and loses an eye. All of Albert's brothers work with him slowly until he acclimates to playing with his eye patch. Then, in the '40s, baseball play is interrupted when six of the Acerra brothers join the military. After World War II, all of the brothers return home safely and go on to play baseball for several more years, this time with one of the oldest brothers coaching. The Acerras play their last game as a team in 1952. They're honored as the longest-running all-brother team by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. An author's note at the end of the book explains how author Audrey Vernick met two of the brothers and learned about their lives.

Is it any good?

Brothers at Bat is a charming, inspiring family history that will fascinate young baseball fans. The story and vintage-style illustrations of a dozen brothers sleeping two to a bed, forming a team, and going off to war together sets this unique story in its period, so history lovers will enjoy the book as well. Most important, the Acerras exemplify real "family values" of kindness, citizenship, and good sportsmanship, which will encourage youngsters to be kinder siblings and better teammates.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about team sports. What does it mean to be a "good sport"?

  • Brothers at Bat says that when the Acerra brothers were playing baseball, people thought sports were for boys. How can you tell that has changed by the end of the book?

  • Check out one of the movies from our list of the Best Baseball Movies for kids.

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