The story of Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today."

Junior Library Guild August 2016

Wittenstein is scrupulously accurate in his portrayal of time, place, baseball, and characters real and imagined, allowing Bernard to narrate in the language of the 1950s, speaking directly to readers in an earnest, joyous voice that resonates with emotion. Ladd’s wonderfully detailed acrylic-and–colored pencil illustrations powerfully and beautifully complement and enhance the events. The family glows with personality, and the baseball scenes are spot-on. Bernard is innocent, aware, and endlessly hopeful and will win readers hearts. A grand slam."

Kirkus Starred Review March 2017

Bernard’s conversational narration creates a warm bond with readers from the get-go, and although Wittenstein and Ladd never sugarcoat instances of racial prejudice, the story’s moments of triumph sound the loudest notes."

Publishers Weekly December 2016

Kids could easily get the impression that after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier it was smooth sailing for African-Americans in baseball. This book shoots down that myth elegantly and well."

Betsy Bird/School Library Journal May 2016

Jackie Robinson may have broken the color barrier in baseball, but that doesn’t mean that integration of the sport was easy. This fictionalized account of Boston Red Sox player Elijah Green shows just how difficult it was, and also how important."

Huffington Post/Brightly December 22, 2016

This book blew me away and that's rare, especially for a book about baseball. Barry Wittenstein tells this story with the perfect blend of suspense, grace, and love."

goodreads January 19, 2017

CBC chooses 'Pumpsie' as a February 2017 'Hot off the Press' selection!"

Children's Book Council February 2017

Me & Pumpsie

When I was eight years old...

...about the same age as Bernard, the narrator of this story, my beloved team was the New York Mets, not the Red Sox. The Mets had a player by the name of Pumpsie Green in 1963. 


He had been traded from Boston after the 1962 season.  Pumpsie didn’t play in too many games for the Mets, but the name stuck with me.

As I began to study my baseball history — and the sport of baseball has a rich and fascinating history — I learned what team integrated first and which player that was.  Everybody knew it was Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 1947. 


A few months later, in July, I learned that the second team to sign an African-American player was the Cleveland Indians with Larry Doby.


I assumed the entire major leagues quickly integrated. I was wrong.

It took the New York Yankees, to my surprise, until 1955 to sign an African-American when catcher Elston Howard suited up. 


And the last team to allow a black player to join their ranks? The Boston Red Sox.  And the player? There was that name again — Pumpsie Green.  It had been twelve years since that day in 1947 in Brooklyn with Jackie.

Pumpsie was not the quality of player that Jackie was. But that didn’t mean Pumpsie didn’t face the same kinds of racism.

Boston was known as a racially divided city long before Pumpsie played for the Sox.  Ask Bill Russell, the Celtics All-Star center, on what even he had to endure as he led his team to many NBA championships. Fortunately for Pumpsie, both he and Russell were from the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area, and knew each other. Russell took the young shortstop under his wing.


Pumpsie’s entrance into major league baseball was not an iconic, national moment, as was Jackie’s. Nonetheless, it provided closure, an endnote, to the story of baseball integration. It had taken much too long, and there was still a tremendous way to go. But at last, on July 21, 1959. MLB could finally say its sport had fulfilled the promise of Jackie Robinson.

Pumpsie Green's story is well documented in many fine books written for an adult audience.  But none is written for the very young. Until now.

I hope you … and Pumpsie, enjoy the story of Bernard.

Barry Wittenstein
New York City
December 2016

“Waiting For Pumpsie" now in stores.

Order online now at IndieBound, Powells, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Read More



April, 15, 1947 -- Jackie Robinson makes history!

Learn More Apr 15, 1947

July 5, 1947 -- Larry Doby joins the Cleveland Indians

Learn More Jan 08, 2016

1948 Integration of Armed Forces

Learn More Dec 24, 2016

May 17, 1954 Brown v. Board of Ed

Learn More May 17, 1954

August 28, 1955 Emmett Till is killed

Learn More Aug 28, 1955

December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks arrested

Learn More Dec 01, 1955

1957 -- Jackie Robinson Retires

Learn More Oct 01, 1957

Fall 1957 Little Rock Central High School desegregated

Learn More Dec 26, 2016

February 1, 1959 Woolworth's Sit-In

Learn More Feb 01, 1959

July 21, 1959 -- Pumpsie Green plays for the Red Sox

Learn More Jul 21, 1959

August 4, 1959 Pumpsie debuts at Fenway

Learn More Aug 04, 1959

School Visits

I would love to come speak at your school.

After a lifetime of studying the craft of writing -- from poetry to songwriting, sportswriting to children's books -- I think I can inspire children to work hard and believe in themselves. Writing is hard. And showing one's creativity to the world is an act of bravery. I have many stories to share about struggle and rejection. After all, the publication of this debut book, has come after decades of reaching for the gold ring. So, I am an expert on this subject!

Up first during a school visit is a reading of my book, "Waiting for Pumpsie." Depending on the grade and comprehension level, I discuss the context of my historical nonfiction story.

This can lead into a discussion of the Civil Rights Movement, Jackie Robinson, and baseball. We hit many of the important events that took place between Jackie's debut in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pumpsie's debut in 1959. This mirrors the website's "Timeline" page. A slide show of the world of Boston, 1959 -- the main character's world in the book -- accompanies this section.

Next, I talk about the process of writing. I show (and read) early versions of the text and talk about the edits, and why. The original title was "Pumpsie, the Red Sox and Me," and I can read pargraphs that were left on the "cutting room floor." I like to think of this part of the presenation as the Director's Cut. This always gets the kids talking, since the process of editing and revising is a staple of elementary school studies. (As is beginning, middle and end, which we discuss in terms of "Pumpsie.")

I have the original sketches from the llustrator, London Ladd, and I show them -- as well as the finished product. There were a few sketches that had to be changed, and I show them to the class, too.

At the end, there is a Q&A section, and am happy to sign the book, or a blank sheet of paper, a t-shirt, a hand or an arm!

Upon departure, I leave five-page pamplets for each student which review my presentation, have some of the black & white sketches for coloring, and a crossword puzzle. Oh, and some stickers, of course!

I can tailor my presentation around your needs and requirements. Please contact me at 646-345-7461, or by email at onedogwoof@gmail.com. A fun time is guaranteed by all!!!

School Visits


  • 02/21/2017 12:00 PM

Somewhere, somehow, there will be a Pumpsie release party.

  • 05/17/2017 01:00 PM
  • SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, NY

A yearly event to celebrate poetry and the memory of the late Robert Pawlikowski, I will be speaking to an audience of 1,000 young poets! Can't wait!


A lot of work goes into making a picture book.

First, since I was only the author, I had to get a company to want to publish it. Luckily, Charlesbridge Publishers in Boston, MA loved the story and said YES! This was Summer 2014.

Then, once the text was edited, Charlesbridge reached out to illustrator London Ladd, who agreed to join the project. How fortunate that he happened to be available. Sometimes illustrators are booked years in advance. And it takes more than a year to get all the pictures done. That was Spring 2015.

London then came up with sketches by March 2016, and sent them into Charlesbridge. Once they got approved, he had to finish them by adding color. Sometimes, corrections were made to the faces or the scenes.

By Summer 2016, all the materials were sent to the printing company, and made into a book.


So...if you want to try to take these original sketches and add color with crayons or markers, here's your chance. Just click HERE to download some of London Ladd's wonderful art work.


Links & Stuff


Hi. I'm Barry Wittenstein. When I substitute teach in elementary schools in New York City, I let the kids call me Barry, Mr. Barry, Mr. Berry, Mr. B, Mr. W., or even Mr. Wittenstein, if they can pronounce it!

I live in Manhattan with my wife and son....and two big rescued dogs. I'm originally from Long Island. I then went to college at Harper College in Binghamton, NY, and transferred to San Francisco State University in California, where I earned my B.A. in English.  

I have had many jobs in my life. I've been a bartender, a taxi driver, a songwriter, various office jobs at CBS News and CBS Records, a web editor and freelance writer for Major League Baseball, an assistant to a photojournalist, and probably a few more I've forgotten.

But always, I have been writing writing writing, and taking classes in writing writing writing. Many of them online. Like memoir, poetry writing, creative nonfiction, greeting card, screenwriting, novel writing and picture book writing.

"Waiting for Pumpsie" is the first of many books I hope to write. Already signed and in production is a picture book about the inventor of the Band-Aid (which comes out in 2018), and a third picture book about Martin Luther King, Jr. (schedule for January 2019). 



New York, NY, United States