Cover image for The funniest man in baseball : the true story of Max Patkin / Audrey Vernick ; illustrated by Jennifer Bower.
The funniest man in baseball : the true story of Max Patkin / Audrey Vernick ; illustrated by Jennifer Bower.
Publication Information:
Boston : Clarion Books, [2018]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
"A biography for children about Max Patkin, a professional baseball player turned baseball clown"-- Provided by publisher.
Added Author:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
796.357092 VER Book Junior Collection

On Order



A hilarious picture book biography about Max Patkin, a professional ballplayer turned legendary baseball clown, from the author of the acclaimed Brothers at Bat and other baseball nonfiction.

Max Patkin was pitching in the minor leagues when he was injured and had to leave his dreams behind. He joined the Navy and eventually was able to play again while in the military . . . and this time he got to pitch against superstar Joe DiMaggio. When Joe hit one of Max's throws out of the park, Max threw down his glove, left the mound, and chased Joe around the bases, making faces and imitating his every move. The crowd loved it! And a baseball clown was born.

This inspiring and comical biography carries an important message: Life doesn't always turn out exactly as you hope . . . but moving in a new direction can sometimes bring happy surprises.

Author Notes

Many of Audrey Vernick 's books are about baseball in one way or another, including her acclaimed picture book Brothers at Bat . An avid fan, she lives near the ocean in New Jersey. .

Jennifer Bower is an illustrator living in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Funniest Man in Baseball is her picture book debut. .

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Growing up, Max Patkin had big baseball dreams, but was also "a funny guy, a goofy guy, always looking for a laugh." In this picture book biography, Vernick (Brothers at Bat) details Patkin's brief career as a ballplayer, first in the minor leagues and then with a team of enlisted players during WWII. During one game, he pitches against, then pokes fun at Joe DiMaggio, earning a reputation as a jokester in the process. A shoulder injury forces Patkin to retire from the game, but his talents as an entertainer land him an official role as a "baseball clown" and performer in the big leagues. Vernick writes in energetic prose that is well matched to debut illustrator Bower's cartoons, which depict Patkin's exaggerated movements and clownlike expressions on and off the field. Readers learn little about Patkin's personal life, though a quote from Patkin provides insight into how he felt about the unconventional role he filled: "In my heart I would have rather been a big-league baseball player. But then I'd have never made so many people happy." An author's note includes photographs and additional insight into Patkin's life and outsize personality. Ages 6-9. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Max Patkin's Major League dreams "took a funny turn." Before there were mascots in baseball stadiums, there was this clownish failed pitcher whose rubber face and talent as a mimic kept fans in stitches. The drawn-out text is unlikely to get today's young readers interested in the famous baseball clown's old-fashioned antics, though they're humorously enlivened in the caricaturish art. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.