Cooperstown team stars in kids' sleuth story

In a book released this week, the "Ballpark Mystery" duo is back and heading to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to cheer on a team from Cooperstown.

"Ballpark Mysteries, Super Special #4, The World Series Kids" by David A. Kelly, with illustrations by Mark Meyers, was released Tuesday, Sept. 10, by Random House Children's. 

Kelly, a Massachusetts writer who grew up in New Hartford, has been publishing the book series for kids since 2011, when the first in the series, "The Fenway Foul-up," was released. 

The "Ballpark Mysteries" are about two fictional 9-year-old cousins from Cooperstown, Kate and Mike, who solve mysteries in baseball ballparks around the country. 

"Because I grew up near Cooperstown, I thought it was the perfect place to have my characters be from," Kelly told The Cooperstown Crier on Monday, Sept. 9. 

Kelly went to Syracuse University and majored in computer science and technology. He moved to Boston for a job in the software industry, and also worked in tech marketing and writing, before deciding, "there are more interesting things to do." He said he then started doing more freelance writing, including about travel and sports. 

Kelly said when his sons were young, he wanted to read them books which combined sports and mysteries.

"I couldn't find any," he said. "I thought, 'this would be a great idea.'" 

Kate and Mike don't just solve mysteries on the road; they pitched in back home, too, during a sleepover at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. That story was published in 2017 as, "Ballpark Mysteries, Super Special #2, Christmas in Cooperstown."

In the new book, the cousins travel to the LLWS after the Cooperstown team has won the Mid-Atlantic Region tournament. Although Kate and Mike are both baseball players, they are too young to play on the team, which is for 10- to 12-year-old players. According to a media release for the book, "Technically, Mike and Kate are just there to support their friend, Colin, and his teammates as they play for the championship. But the competition gets tricky when someone starts trying to sabotage Cooperstown's team. ... Can Mike and Kate find the trickster before it's too late? Or will these shenanigans cost Cooperstown the series?"

Kelly said he has great memories of visiting Cooperstown as a kid, including going to the Hall of Fame games when Major League Baseball teams would play an exhibition game every year at Doubleday Field. 

"Sometimes the teams would stay at a hotel in New Hartford," he said. "One year, I saw Hank Aaron play a game in Cooperstown with the Atlanta Braves. That was special." 

Kelly said the response to his series has been good, from his sons — they are now adults, and younger son, Scott, gives good notes on book drafts, Kelly said — and from baseball fans who appreciate the history lessons mixed in with the stories. 

"It has been great," Kelly said. "People really love these books.

"(The new book) is a really fun book, and I think my readers will like it," he continued. 

Kelly's books are available at The Green Toad in Oneonta and at stores in Cooperstown. They can also be ordered online. Kelly said he also does classroom visits at elementary schools. Go to http://davidakellybooks.com/ for more information. 

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