Designated Santa Sub: CC Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story by CC Sabathia and Ray Negron
IT WAS CHRISTMAS EVE AND EVERYTHING WAS READY AT THE SABATHIA HOUSE.
THE ONLY THINGS MISSING WERE THE PRESENTS SANTA WOULD LEAVE UNDER THE TREE.
Oldest child Carsten is allowed to stay up late with his dad, CC, while he catches up on his fan mail. But Carsten notices a small envelope not addressed to his dad, but to Santa Claus!
We had a terrible flood and lost all our toys. Can you bring my brothers baseballs and gloves?
No baseball equipment? This is serious! Carsten persuades his dad that they must get Anabelle's letter to Santa before he takes off for his Christmas Eve flight.
"How do we get there, Dad?" asked Carsten.
"We go North!" said CC.
CC and Carsten jump in the car and take off in the snow for the North Pole. (This IS a Christmas story, you know.) But when they arrive at the Claus residence, things are not going well. Santa is sneezing, and the elves are swamped with unfinished toys. Who're you going to call for a rush job at the last minute before the sleigh lifts off?
CC knows. He calls THE BOSS, George Steinbrenner.
Mr. Steinbrenner is a take-charge guy, and he's on it. But even he can't manufacture baseball equipment on such short order. Who can do it?
Steinbrenner calls on... the THE GHOSTS OF BASEBALL PAST!
"Get me Ted Williams, Satchel Page, Phil Rizzuto, Bob Feller, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Tetsharu Kawakamui, Jackie Robinson, Elston Howard....!" he barks.
And the baseball greats report for action and come through in the clutch, even doing up a doll for Anabelle just in time. But by this time, Santa is seriously sick, coughing and sniffling, so CC borrows a spare Santa cap for himself and an elfin cap for Carsten, and, as Clemente serenades them with "Feliz Navidad," they are ready to pinch-hit for St. Nick.
And it's a grand slam all around the waiting world in Ray Negron's CC Claus: A Baseball Christmas Story (HarperCollins, 2014), as CC Sabathia and Carsten touch all the bases around the globe to bring Christmas home to all. Of course, subbing for Santa is not a new plot in Christmas literature, but Negron manages a slightly tongue-in-cheek "willing suspension of disbelief" mood in this baseball-themed holiday fantasy, greatly assisted by artist Laura Seeley's terrific illustrations, carrying off faithful caricatures of twenty-one gone-but-not-forgotten baseball legends, elves, children, Santa, his missus and reindeer, and scenic snowy landscapes which enable this fantastical plot line to, er, get off the ground. Baseball fans will particularly enjoy this story, and if they are too young to know much about the featured baseball greats who come off the bench to save the day, there is an appendix with thumbnail biographical sketches of the careers of those twenty-one spirits of baseball history.