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Inspired by Derek Jeter’s own life, Fair Ball is the fourth middle grade novel in the new york Times bestselling Jeter Publishing Program and focuses on the theme “the world isn’t always fair.”Life isn’t always fair.

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You can’t control that, but you can control how you think and act when things don’t go your way. You have to hang in there & keep after it, not get down và give up. Derek has a lot to look forward to. School is almost out, his baseball team is competing in the Westwood Little League Playoffs, & then he’ll head khổng lồ his grandparents’ house for the summer. Sure, there are finals lớn study for first, but Derek doesn’t mind. Maybe this year he’ll get better grades than Gary. But when his best friend Dave starts khổng lồ act strangely, ignoring Derek và canceling their plans, his summer isn’t looking quite so fun. What’s going on? Doesn’t he want khổng lồ be Derek’s friend anymore? Derek is so distracted by his problems with Dave that he makes a mistake in the outfield during a key play—and his team loses the game. It’s so unfair! With the championship at stake và finals looming, Derek needs lớn stay focused or risk everything.


Fair Ball Chapter One PLAYOFFS! “Stee-rike ONE!” Derek Jeter winced as he stared at trang chủ plate from the on-deck circle. His teammate, Dean O’Leary, had just let a very hittable pitch go right by him. The odds of getting another meatball like that were slim to lớn none. After all, it was the sixth inning already, & there was still no score for either team. Both the Dodgers’ pitcher and Dave Hennum, the Indians’ hurler (and one of Derek’s best friends), were at the đứng đầu of their game. Neither team had gotten a runner past second base all day. If this trò chơi went into extra innings, both sides would have khổng lồ reach for a relief pitcher. It was the first trò chơi of the Westwood Little League playoffs. This year the league had restructured the playoffs. The vị trí cao nhất four teams were now playing each other in a round-robin. The vị trí cao nhất two finishers would go head-to-head for the league championship. But that wasn’t all. In a new twist designed by the town, the winner of that trò chơi would then play the champion of the East Side league, for the first annual Kalamazoo Trophy! The new format would make for four weeks of tension & excitement—if the Indians got that far. In his heart Derek was sure his team would win it all, including the Kalamazoo Trophy. With his dad as their coach, how could they not? But Derek also knew that they still had to lớn win the games, one by one. A loss lớn the Dodgers today would not knock them out of contention. But it might prove a fatal blow lớn their hopes in the end, so every at bat was important. “Stee-rike TWO!” Dean had swung, but the pitch had already landed in the catcher’s mitt. This Dodgers pitcher was a real fireballer. Derek remembered him from the regular season. The Indians had won that trò chơi 6–5 but hadn’t scored at all in this guy’s four innings on the mound. & so far today the Indians’ batters hadn’t even sniffed him. Derek swung his bat rhythmically in the on-deck circle, getting ready for his turn. He blew out regular, big breaths, trying lớn stay relaxed & calm. The next pitch to lớn Dean was in the dirt, and he almost swung at it. But the ump held his arms out in the “safe” sign, ruling that Dean had checked his swing. The count was now 1–2, with one out and nobody on. “Protect, protect,” Derek muttered under his breath, hoping Dean could read his thoughts & would make sure to swing at anything that was close to lớn a strike. The pitch came in. Dean watched it go by—right over the heart of the plate và down at the knees! “Stee-rike three!” yelled the ump. “What?” Dean cried, throwing his hands up. “That pitch was low!” “Yer out!” the ump said. “Let’s go. Next batter.” Dean dragged himself away, groaning with frustration as he passed Derek on his way back khổng lồ the bench. Derek shook his head in sympathy, but he knew that Dean should have swung. The pitch might have been a little low, but it had been too close to let go by with two strikes. You never knew when an ump might miss a call. If you had to go down, it was better to lớn go down swinging. Derek mix his feet in the batter’s box. He could hear his teammates cheering him on. The Indians had learned over the course of their season khổng lồ pull together as a unit & to play for one another, not just for themselves. That was a tribute lớn their coaches. Derek’s dad và Coach Bradway had made good players, such as Mason Adams, Jonathan Hogue, and Tito Ortega, better, & they’d made weaker players, such as Gary Parnell, Miles Kaufman, and Derek’s good buddy Vijay Patel, play to lớn the best of their abilities. The Indians might not have been the most talented team in the league, but here they were in the playoffs—and Derek was convinced that this was only the beginning. He had been named their regular-season MVP. If anyone was going lớn be able khổng lồ hit the fastest pitcher they’d faced all season, he thought, it was probably him. Derek rubbed some dirt onto his hands to lớn get a better grip on the bat and dug his toes in lớn get the best possible footing. He pointed the bat straight at the pitcher, as a reminder to himself lớn try to hit the fastball straight up the middle, và not swing too hard in a useless effort to lớn pull the ball.

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Here came the pitch, và Derek was ready. The fastball was over the heart of the plate, và Derek’s bat was there khổng lồ meet it. CRACK! The pitcher ducked. The ball was hit so hard that the center fielder couldn’t get into position before it skidded right by him. Derek was almost lớn first base when he saw that happen, and immediately he was thinking triple. He rounded second, barely touching it with the outside of his right foot, and slid into third just in time. Now it was all up khổng lồ Dave. Derek clapped và yelled encouragement along with the rest of the Indians. Dave had all kinds of power, but he struck out a lot because his swing was lượt thích a golf swing—up and down và under the ball. There was good reason for that. Dave had started playing golf as a young kid, và he played whenever he got the chance. His dream was to be a professional golfer. He’d learned baseball only a year before, with Derek doing most of the teaching. Derek knew Dave would have a hard time hitting this pitcher. Derek had a feeling that if he wanted to score, he was going khổng lồ have to bởi it on his own. So when he saw the 1–1 pitch hit the dirt và get away from the catcher, he took off, trying to lớn steal home. The catcher, who was just picking up the ball, saw Derek barreling toward him. Startled, he lost his grip, and by the time he wheeled around khổng lồ make the tag, it was too late. “SAFE!” called the ump, stretching his arms out wide. Và just lượt thích that, Derek had stolen the lead for his team. Dave proceeded to lớn strike out, just as Derek had feared. Now it was the Dodgers’ turn for last licks. Dave was still on the mound, as he had been all game. He had been dominating the Dodgers hitters too, thanks to lớn the wicked changeup that Derek had taught him early in the season. Dave quickly fell behind the first hitter, 3–0. Derek didn’t know how many pitches Dave had already thrown, but it was easy lớn see that his friend was tired. He knew that if Dave didn’t get through this inning quickly, he’d reach his pitch limit. Derek snuck a peek at Coach Bradway, who was keeping the pitch count. He also happened khổng lồ be Dave’s guardian, the person who looked after him whenever Dave’s parents were away on business—which was a whole lot. Chase (he liked khổng lồ be called by his first name) was also the family’s driver. The Hennum family was rich—richer than anyone Derek or his other friends had ever known. After all, not everybody could afford their own driver. After a called strike the hitter lofted a long fly ball to lớn right. Vijay was out there, but he looked uncomfortable as he settled under the ball. The sun must have been in his eyes, because he ducked at the last moment. The ball hit his glove, then popped back up into the air. Derek held his breath for one endless instant, until Vijay recovered his wits and, mercifully, caught the ball a second time before it hit the ground. Well, that’s one out, at least, thought Derek. The next hitter lined the first pitch right at Dave, who at least managed khổng lồ knock it down. It ricocheted off his glove over khổng lồ Derek, who threw to lớn first for the second out. “Thanks!” Dave told him, relieved. “Hey, what are friends for?” Derek said, and laughed. Dave had to get just one more out—and he did, when the hitter swung at a 2–0 fastball and hit a fly ball to Gary Parnell in left, who put it away for the final out. Game over. 1–0, Indians! The team had made Derek’s stolen run pay off. They were now 1–0 in the playoffs. As far as Derek was concerned, it was going khổng lồ be clear sailing from here on in, all the way khổng lồ the Kalamazoo Trophy! “Hey, Dave,” Derek said as the two of them helped pack up the team’s gear, “don’t forget about next weekend.” “Not a chance!” Dave said with a big grin. For weeks the two boys had been planning a big overnight at Derek’s house. “You can come over right after the game,” Derek offered. “My folks said that whenever you come is good.” “Cool. I just have to check with my folks, and we’re good to lớn go.” “Awesome!” Derek was happy & excited as he got into the car with his dad and Vijay for the drive back khổng lồ Mount Royal Townhouses, where both the Jeters & the Patels lived. It was early June. Summer was almost here. Soon he’d be vacationing with his grandparents, spending his summer on Greenwood Lake in New Jersey, và going to lớn Yankees games with his grandma. Best of all, his team was going to win the Kalamazoo Trophy! Oh, và the cherry on top? He and Dave were finally going to have their long-planned overnight at Derek’s. For once in his life there wasn’t the ghost of a problem on the horizon, Derek told himself. Other than the team possibly losing next week—which wasn’t going to happen. What could possibly go wrong?
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