For Ages
6 to 9

Ballpark Mysteries #15: The Baltimore Bandit is a part of the Ballpark Mysteries A Stepping Stone Book collections.

Batter up! Baseball action and exciting whodunits star in this chapter book series! Next up is Baltimore!

Mike and Kate's next mystery is legendary! The great pitching legend Babe Ruth's first team was in Baltimore, so the Orioles' ballpark has one of his gloves on display. While Mike and Kate are eating pancakes with the Orioles' pitcher, the glove goes missing. The only clue they have is a gold coin . . . which points back to the pancake-eating pitcher! But how could he have done it? It will take more snacks at the ballpark, a talking parrot, and expert detective work to solve this mystery!

Ballpark Mysteries are the all-star matchup of fun sleuthing and baseball action, perfect for readers of Ron Roy's A to Z Mysteries and Matt Christopher's sports books, and younger siblings of Mike Lupica fans. Each Ballpark Mystery also features Dugout Notes with more amazing baseball facts.

An Excerpt fromBallpark Mysteries #15: The Baltimore Bandit

“POW!” Mike Walsh said as he swung an imaginary bat. “Babe Ruth blasts a home run in Baltimore!”
Mike’s cousin Kate Hopkins watched his pretend baseball fly over the Orioles’ outfield. “UH-OH! CRASH!” she said in an announcer’s voice. “He’s the first player to hit a window on the big brick warehouse across the street!”
It was late on a Sunday afternoon, and Mike and Kate were waiting in line to run the bases after a Baltimore Orioles game.
“Well then, maybe I hit it!” Mike said.
“And if you hit it, you’ll have to pay for the broken window!” Kate said.
Mike shrugged. “Okay, I guess I’ll let Babe Ruth take that one,” he said. “But he can’t have pancakes  with Flaps!”
Mike and Kate had come to Baltimore with Kate’s mom, Laura Hopkins. She was a sports reporter for American Sportz. She had arranged for Mike and Kate to meet the Orioles star pitcher Flaps Palmer the following day for a pregame meal. Flaps was superstitious. Before each game he pitched, he insisted on having flapjacks for good luck.
“I might not be able to hit as well as Babe Ruth,” Mike said. “But I’ll bet I can keep up with Flaps when it comes to eating pancakes!” Kate nodded. “When it comes to pancakes,
you could keep up with a vacuum cleaner!”
Mike smiled. “Yes, but I’d enjoy them more than the vacuum would!”
Mrs. Hopkins and the kids had arrived ear- lier that day from their home in Cooperstown, New York. They had watched the Sunday- afternoon Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. They also had front-row seats near the dugout for the next day’s game against the Seattle Mariners.
Mike pointed to a long, eight-story brick warehouse behind the Orioles’ outfield. “Actually, I don’t think Babe Ruth could have hit one of the windows in that warehouse,” he said.
“Why not?” Kate asked.
“Because back then, the Orioles played in a different stadium,” Mike said. “Also, even though he was born right near here, Babe Ruth was traded from the Orioles to the Boston Red Sox halfway through his first season. Back then, he was a pitcher, just like Flaps.”
“I’ll bet that’s why Flaps is crazy about Babe Ruth,” Kate said. “At the ceremony before the game, they said Flaps is a huge fan!”
During the ceremony, a valuable baseball glove that Babe Ruth once owned had been unveiled. It was an old, flat, brown glove, but it was worth over $250,000! The Orioles were going to put it on display in a room near the gift shop for the first time before the next day’s game.
“Hey, look—it’s our turn!” Kate said. “We’re going to run the bases at a major-league stadium!”
“I know!” Mike said. “This is awesome!” He high-fived Kate.
A man standing in front of the Orioles’ dugout motioned for Mike and Kate to head to the batter’s box. He wore a black-and-orange Orioles jersey and had a big bushy beard. On his baseball cap was an image of a large white crab.
Before Mike and Kate reached home plate, they heard the first few bars of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The man held up his hand to motion for Mike and Kate to stop. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, which played the song as its ringtone.
The man answered the phone. While he talked, Mike pulled a tennis ball out of the pocket in his shorts and tossed it to Kate. They played catch until the man hung up. He waved at Mike and Kate and pointed at home plate. Mike slipped the ball back into his pocket, and they ran over.
“Ready to run the bases like a Baltimore Oriole?” he asked. “Are you two doing this together?”
Kate nodded.
“Stand in the batter’s box,” he said. “Take off when I say ‘Go!’ ”
Kate and Mike crouched down, ready to run.
“Five, four, three, two, one . . . GO!” the man shouted. 
Mike and Kate took off like a shot. Kate seized an early lead as she and Mike raced for first base.
“Mike Walsh has ripped another line drive deep to center field,” Mike called as he ran. “It’s another amazing hit by this young superstar.” Kate’s foot touched first base just before
Mike’s. They headed to second.
“Mike Walsh is tearing up the base paths today!” Mike yelled. He pulled a step ahead of Kate.
A small cloud of dust rose behind them as they rounded second. Kate seemed to find extra power and shot ahead again, but Mike caught up near third. They thundered down on third base and headed for home.
“It looks like it will be close!” Mike called out. “Will Mike Walsh beat the throw? I think he will!”
Kate zoomed toward home plate. She was a step ahead of Mike.
Mike made a split-second decision to slide. His heel hit the white rubber edge of home plate just as Kate’s right foot landed squarely in the center of the plate.
“Home run!” she cried. “I win!”
Mike slid across home plate, leaving a trail of dust behind him.
“No way!” Mike said as he stood up. “My foot touched first. I won!”
“No, I won!” Kate said.
“Let’s ask your mom,” Mike said. Mrs. Hopkins had been standing just behind home plate, watching them. “Who won, Aunt Laura?”
“It was very close,” Mrs. Hopkins said. “It’s possible that Kate’s foot landed first. You were behind her, Mike.”
Mike held up his hands. “I know!” he said. “That’s why I was sliding!”Mike pointed to the far side of the plate. “I started sliding right over there, and my foot crossed . . . ,” he said.
Kate and Mrs. Hopkins waited for Mike to finish his thought, but he didn’t. Instead, he scuffed at the dirt in the batter’s box with the tip of his sneaker.
“Mike?    Is   something    wrong?”    Mrs.
Hopkins asked.
Mike ignored them. He dropped to the ground, dug with his fingers, and then tugged something from the dirt.
Sunlight sparkled off a shiny gold coin. “Look what I found,” Mike said. “Buried

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