Growing Up Pedro

Growing Up Pedro
By Matt Tavares

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Matt Tavares talks with me about his new book “Growing Up Pedro” outside G. Willikers! children’s store in Portsmouth, N.H. (Photo by Keli Eckroate)

A gifted baseball artist with a child-like love of the game. Yes, I am talking about Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. And, yes, I am talking about children’s book creator Matt Tavares, author-illustrator of “Growing Up Pedro.”

Autographing copies of his new book during Children’s Day festivities yesterday in Portsmouth, N.H., the author spoke about being inspired by Pedro.

Tavares’ beautiful illustrations (he traveled to Pedro’s hometown of Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic to help bring it alive on his pages) provide a rich backdrop for a deeply personal story about overcoming the odds (Pedro was told he was too small for his hardball dream) and a deep bond between brothers (older brother Ramon was Pedro’s hero long before both men became big-league stars).

A resident of Ogunquit, Maine, Tavares is a lifelong Red Sox fan who acknowledged that his newest book was timed to coincide with Pedro’s recent election into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. N.Y.

Fans will be expecting a uniquely Pedro speech when he steps to the podium during the gala induction ceremony on Sunday, July 26.

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Find “Growing Up Pedro” at Matt Tavares’ website — MattTavares.com.

Meanwhile, many key scenes from his life are lovingly depicted by Tavares. Pedro throwing rocks at the ripe mangos in the trees near his home to hone his accuracy. Pedro receiving his first real baseball glove from Ramon after his brother signs with the Dodgers at age 16.

Tavares, whose 16 titles include seven centered on our national pastime, appears to be building an all-star baseball bibliography, as “Growing Up Pedro” follows previous books about Ted Williams, Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth.

Honestly, if Matt Tavares was in the game back when I was growing up, I would have collected and treasured his work.

His “Pedro” is my new favorite pitcher book.

— John Breneman

EDITOR’S NOTE: A recent wave of Pedro mania is also stoked by the release of “Pedro,” a new book in which Martinez collaborates with Boston Herald writer Michael Silverman to share his life story.

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