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A Walk-Off Bedtime Story

If you know a Mets fan dad (ideally one of a young child), he's probably in need of a pick-me-up because of the way the team is playing in 2008.

One possible gift (even if it's belated) would be a book I got in the mail today "The '86 Mets, Buckner & The Bambino," part of a series titled "Daddy's Heroes: Unforgettable Sports Moments To Share With Children."

I don't usually do product reviews here, but I'm a sucker for the subject and I like to encourage entrepreneurial efforts, so I'll make an exception.

In this edition, authors Tom Garcia and Karun Naga tell the story of my favorite game, Game 6 of the 1986 World Series in a manner in which young children can understand. They explain the origin of the Curse of the Bambino and summarize the history of events leading to the matchup between the Mets and Red Sox. They go through the key moments in Game 6, with special attention to Mookie Wilson's famous ground ball, weaving in the presence of Babe Ruth at various points in a "Where's Waldo" fashion. And they make sure the story has a happy ending for Mets fans.

To be fair, the authors would have had to have really screwed up for me not to like this book. Needless to say, I think it's terrific. There are a couple of things I really like:

* They were smart enough not to mention Roger Clemens by name. He's simply referred to as "Rocket Roger." Nor do the Yankees get any recognition. Babe Ruth was dealt away "to another team." Why do Roger Clemens or the Yankees need any free mentions? :)

* The illustrations, by Jenifer J. Donnelly, are fantastic. Often, in an effort like this, little effort is made to get the minor historical details right, but in this instance, Donnelly did a great job. She may have missed out on the nutty arm-waving lady (Mets fan) Bo Fields sitting behind the plate, but she captured everything else of significance, such as:

- Babe Ruth is shown at-bat properly wearing a cap, instead of a batting helmet

- The player shown making the second out of the 10th inning actually looks like Keith Hernandez, and he's depicted in the clubhouse with Kevin Mitchell, waiting for the game to end.

- The Mets third base coach is white (Bud Harrelson) and their first base coach is black (Bill Robinson)

- Those shown in the dugout with Mookie at bat include Gary Carter, Davey Johnson, and even someone who looks like Randy Niemann.

- When Ray Knight scores the winning run, Bud Harrelson is just steps away, having run with Knight, and Howard Johnson is waiting to greet the victors at home plate.

The story is a great one, as you probably know if you're visiting this site. From it, you can teach a child the value of belief and a little luck (areas in which the Mets seem to be lacking these days).

This is one of two books released so far in the series, with the other being the story of Kirk Gibson's home run. In the future, to the authors, I'd suggest the following titles.

* "The A'Maz'ing Game," a story of Bill Mazeroski's home run to give the Pirates the 1960 World Series.

* "Here Comes Willis," the tale of the Knicks and their championship victory in 1970.

* "The Bambino Lifts His Curse," in an effort to be kind to the Red Sox, the story of their 2004 World Series crown.

I'd suggest a version to market to Canada as well, but one of the authors is a Phillies fan, and I wouldn't expect him to tell the story of Joe Carter's home run in a happy fashion.

Anyways, hopefully the Mets clubhouse shop will start stocking this soon, to give the authors a boost in their efforts (and allow them, in the future, to do well enough to be licensed to use logos by Major League Baseball). For now, you can order the book online at http://www.daddysheroes.com/

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