You will know by now that I am not a great novel reader. Yet, as we have learned together here, even the novel does have its place and value on our reading lists. I would include baseball novels on that list :) I also am not a big John Grisham fan. In spite of the huge success and popularity of his novels, I simply have struggled to “get into” them (I’ve tried!). But now Grisham has his second baseball novel out – just this month – in time for the start of the new season – and it involves the Cubs! Calico Joe is the title (Doubleday, 2012). Unbelievable! Irresistible! This has to be a must read for my summer schedule! I’m going to get it! Soon!
There is a special website devoted to this new book, linked above. And I noticed Amazon has an interesting interview with him about baseball (Turns out he’s a St. Louis Cardinals fan!). But here is part of what the publisher is saying about the book:
John Grisham – Calico Joe is a stunning and poignant novel about sons and their dads, the forgiveness and redemption that can be needed in these relationships, all set in the world of Major League Baseball.
It all started innocuously enough. The first baseman for the Cubs Minor League team pulled a hamstring while rounding third trying to score. The following day, the first baseman for the Cubs – Jim Hickman – hurt his back.
With two first basemen out injured, the Cubs urgently needed someone to replace them, so they called up Joe Castle from their AA club in Midland, Texas. Everyone was buzzing about Joe’s talent and he’d become the hottest player in AA.
So in the summer of 1973, Joe Castle made an even bigger name for himself. He became the best rookie player Major League Baseball had ever seen. This boy from Calico Rock, Arkansas blew the Cubs fans away as he scored one home run after another, always tipping his hat politely at the fans, on the road to breaking every rookie batting record.
It didn’t take long for Calico Joe to become the idol of every baseball fan in the US. This includes Paul Tracey – the son of the Mets pitcher who partied as hard as he threw. Warren Tracey eventually faced Calico Joe, with his son Paul watching in the stands. Paul was cheering for his Dad, but also rooting for everyone’s new idol.
But then Warren threw a fastball that would change all their lives. Forever.
This new John Grisham book has thrilling baseball, but what makes Calico Joe a classic is what happens off the field.