The Only Game

The Only Game

(Part of Home Team)
For Ages: 8 - 12
  • 7
Can a young baseball star maintain his love of the game after the loss of his brother? Find out in this start to the Home Team series about a small town with high hopes, from New York Times bestselling author and sportswriting legend Mike Lupica.

Jack Callahan is the star of his baseball team and seventh grade is supposed to be his year. Undefeated season. Records shattered. Little League World Series. The works. That is, until he up and quits.

Jack’s best friend Gus can’t understand how Jack could leave a game that means more to them than anything else. But Jack is done. It’s a year of change. Jack’s brother has passed away, and though his family and friends and the whole town of Walton thinks baseball is just the thing he needs to move on, Jack feels it’s anything but.

In comes Cassie Bennett, star softball player, and the only person who seems to think Jack shouldn’t play if he doesn’t want to. As Jack and Cassie’s friendship deepens, their circle expands to include Teddy, a guy who’s been bullied because of his weight.

Time spent with these new friends unlocks something within Jack, and with their help and the support of his family and his old friends, Jack discovers sometimes it’s more than just the love of the game that keeps us moving forward—and he might just be able to find his way back to The Only Game, after all.
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481409964 | 
  • January 2016 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7 | 
  • Lexile ® 790L
List Price $7.99 (price may vary by retailer)
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Only Game
By Mike Lupica

Discussion Questions

1. The first chapter ends with a surprise. What hints has the author given in the chapter to show that Jack isn’t simply enjoying his first day of baseball? The reader doesn’t find out that Jack’s brother died until the end of the second chapter. Analyze how the author foreshadows this information in the first two chapters.

2. Jack deals with guilt about his brother’s death by quitting baseball. Describe the role Jack thinks he played in Brad’s death. What does Jack’s decision show about his character? Analyze how the decision affects his life both positively and negatively. Explain why Jack changes his mind about playing.

3. Brad dies before the book opens yet he’s important to the story. How is his character revealed in the book? Analyze the letter he left for Jack, what it shows about Brad, and what it means to Jack. Give examples of what Brad was like as a person and as a brother.

4. Jack admired how Brad never blamed anyone else for his problems. Instead he’d say, “I’m gonna wear it.” Discuss the importance of accountability in the plot. The expression comes up again about Teddy and baseball. How is accountability important in this scene and in sports in general?

5. Cassie, to Jack’s surprise, becomes good fr see more

More Books from this Author

The Home Team Collection
Point Guard
Team Players
The Extra Yard

About the Author

Mike Lupica
Photo by Taylor McKelvy Lupica

Mike Lupica

Mike Lupica is the author of multiple bestselling books for young readers, including the Home Team series, QB 1HeatTravel TeamMillion-Dollar Throw, and The Underdogs. He has carved out a niche as the sporting world’s finest storyteller. Mike lives in Connecticut with his wife and their four children. When not writing novels, he writes for Daily News (New York) and is an award-winning sports commentator. You can visit Mike Lupica at