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READINGS : A Hit With Kids : A story and crafts session devoted to "Baseball--The All-American Game" will entertain young readers Saturday.

June 30, 1995|HEATHER W. MORGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Heather W. Morgan is a regular contributor to The Times

Books about baseball--fiction and nonfiction--outsell the other sports subjects about 10 to 1 at Pages Books in Tarzana.

That fact, along with a husband who has a head for the more arcane aspects of baseball, convinced bookstore owner Darlene Daniel to stage Saturday's "Baseball--The All-American Game," a celebration of the spirit of America through a baseball story hour and crafts.

The event features the store's resident reader, Shari Sack, reading such stories as "Playing Right Field," (Scholastic, 1995) and "Heather Gets Her First Home Run," (Firefly, 1989). Jerry Daniel will challenge the audience's baseball knowledge as Coach Twig McDaniel, a moniker he earned during his college days at Indiana University in the 1950s as student manager for Coach Branch McCracken's Hoosiers basketball team.

"I can stand there for hours and think up questions like 'How many players are on a team?' for the young ones to questions about record-breakers, rules and pinch-hitters for the older ones. I love kids, and I love sports," said Jerry Daniel, who coached his sons in Little League for about 10 years.

"As anyone would tell you, baseball is more than just a game," he said. "It's about the lives, the traditions and the trivia that surround the sport. When you listen to Ross Porter on 'Dodger Talk,' 90% of what he's saying isn't about the game just played, but about the facts and history that surround the players and teams."

"Jerry is a very special man," said Sack, who has worked with Daniel in the past, including a similar baseball story hour three years ago. "He has a gift with children. They really listen to him."

Although the story reading is billed for children from ages 4 to 9, Sack noted that a good story, like baseball, is a multileveled experience.

"Books really transcend age," Sack said, "especially when they're read aloud. When the kids are listening, they're fixed on the story and their imagination."

"It's the one type of book that my husband will gladly read out loud to our son," said Jamie Harrison of Reseda, who recently purchased several of Matt Christopher's novels. The author's latest baseball series "The Peach Street Mudders" (Little Brown & Co.) is geared for readers 7 to 9.

"There's something about baseball that's really unique. Year in and year out, it's always popular with the kids," said Darlene Daniel, who admits she doesn't follow the sport much. "But baseball is more than just a game. It's a part of the American social fabric."

WHERE AND WHEN

What: "Baseball--The All-American Game" story time, crafts and trivia. Location: Pages Books for Children and Young Adults, 18399 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. Hours: 11 a.m. Saturday. Price: $5, which may be applied to purchase of any baseball books. Call: (818) 342-6657.

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