May 20, 1991 12:00 PM

by Susan Sloate

While this book about the childhoods of some famous players is intended (or youngsters in the 10—12 range, adult fans may learn something too.

Sloate, a contributor to Baseball Card News, engagingly recounts, among other things, an early manifestation of Ty Cobb’s competitiveness (he beat up a fifth-grade classmate for making a spelling bee error) and Jackie Robinson’s touching relationship with his older brother Mack (who placed second to Jesse Owens in the 200-meter dash at the ’36 Olympics).

There’s too much filler, though, such as an irrelevant picture of an adult Cy Young captioned, “Cy Young is the only pitcher in history to win 200 or more games in both leagues.” (He’s not even one of the players profiled.) Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo’s 1990 book, Little Big Leaguers (Simon and Schuster), has better photos of modem big leaguers as kids. Still, Sloate spins a telling anecdote and writes intelligently, never patronizing her audience. (Sports Illustrated for Kids, $17.95)

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