Whatever happened to Matt Christopher?

Amidst the reds, pinks and whites that usually adorn many February calendars are three words that seem to get overlooked on campus: Black History Month. February is Black History Month and UW-Eau Claire is recognizing it with several events. "Diversity is lacking here," said junior Persia Davis, vice president of the Black and Latino Student Association.

Spenser Bickett

Matt Christopher

When I was a kid, nothing made me happier than when my mom would pick me up from school and stop at the library on the way home. This meant only one thing to me: that I could stock up on more Matt Christopher books.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Who is this book-loving nerd, and who is Matt Christopher?’

Christopher was a highly prolific author of children’s novels centered around sports.  As a young sports nut who loved reading, this was the perfect marriage of my twin loves.  Christopher was one of the reasons I grew up wanting to be a sportswriter.

After some extensive research, (okay, okay, I mean Googling), I found out that Christopher wrote over 100 novels, with baseball being his most common subject.  This is probably due to the fact that he grew up playing a lot of sandlot baseball and played for a minor league Canadian baseball team.

These books influenced me so much that I still remember the basic concepts of some of my favorites.  There was the one where a mysterious baseball coach formed a team of players who had never played before, and they end up winning it all in the end (“The Diamond Champs”).  Or the one where a football player excels at all parts of the game, except he’s afraid to tackle other players (“Crackerjack Halfback”).

One book that sticks out most in my mind is “The Hockey Machine.” It’s actually a pretty scary book, all things considered. It involves a hockey player who is kidnapped and forced to play on a rich kid’s junior hockey team.  Kind of dark material for Christopher, but I still loved it when I was 10.

Sadly, Christopher passed away in 1997 at the age of 80.  He lived a full life, though, and touched countless lives with his novels, including mine.  Maybe I’ll go pick up a classic like “Baseball Flyhawk” from the library, just for old times sake.

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