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Calico Joe Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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Q: What's your favorite baseball team?
A: St. Louis Cardinals. My father was a Cardinals fan, as was my grandfather. When I was a kid growing up in the rural south, everyone listened to the Cardinals on the radio. We seldom missed a game.
Q: What's your most memorable game--as player, coach, or fan?
A: I played a lot of baseball when I was a kid and teenager, but I do not recall making any spectacular plays. When I coached baseball, my teams usually lost. As a fan, Game 6 of the World Series last year, Cardinals vs. Rangers, comes to mind.
Q: Have you played or coached baseball? What position?
A: I was an average high school baseball player with big dreams. I tried to play in college, but got myself cut in the fall practices. I was an outfielder with a weak arm.
Q: Why are there seemingly more baseball books--both fiction and nonfiction--than other sports?
A: Baseball is a uniquely American sport, and it is the oldest organized sport in the country. It has a rich and colorful history, and up until the last generation, it was the most popular sport for kids to play. Sadly, that is changing.
Q: Who was the Joe Castle of your childhood--a player you revered? And was there a Warren Tracey?
A: I was never much of a Red Sox fan, but I adored Tony Conigliaro. He was a great player, and a certain Hall of Famer. The beanball that struck him in the eye ruined a great career.
Q: While researching Calico Joe, did you attend or watch games? Did you write any of the book at a stadium?
A: I only write in one place, and that's my office at home. I take a lot of notes when I travel around and research, which I did for Calico Joe.
Q: Did you employ any other behind-the-scenes techniques--watch old footage, interview players, read old issues of Sports Illustrated?
A: Yes, all of the above. I interviewed several former major league players. I read lots of old magazines, news articles, and books about baseball, and specifically, The Code. I found some footage of famous beanball wars of recent times.
Q: Do the beanball or the brushback have a place in today's baseball? Even Joe seemed to accept them as "part of the game."
A: Yes. There are times in baseball when a particular hitter must get hit. There are many reasons for this, but retaliation is always a factor. Problems arise though when the pitch is above the shoulders, and aimed at batter's head. If a pitcher does this intentionally, and they do it all the time, they are fooling around with a player's career. Throwing at a batter's head is never acceptable in baseball, even as retaliation.
Q: Have you ever been hit? Have you ever hit someone else?
A: Every baseball player gets hit. Fortunately, I was never beaned in the head. Our coaches never let me anywhere near the pitcher's mound, so I never hit a batter.
Q: Do you love baseball? If so, why? Any concerns that the sport and its stars (as Warren gripes in the book) have changed?
A: I still love baseball but it's not the game of my youth. The pro game today is dominated by money and, frankly, there is a lot of bad baseball being played. I find it frustrating, but I always get pumped at World Series time. College baseball is far more exciting.
“Grisham knocks it out of the park.”—The Washington Post
“An enjoyable, heartwarming read that’s not just for baseball fans.”—USA Today
Praise for John Grisham
“Never let it be said this man doesn’t know how to spin a good yarn.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Grisham may well be the best American storyteller writing today.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
More About the Author
Photo credit Maki Galimberti
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Top Customer Reviews
Warren Tracey was also a big leaguer - a pitcher - with the kind of stats that define most careers in the bigs: occasionally good, usually mediocre and sometimes awful. He was destined to never be remembered except by trivia hounds once his career reached its uncelebrated end - until his involvement in a baseball drama that ensured his name would be written in baseball lore, though not in any manner he would have desired.
The story is told through the eyes of Warren's eleven year old boy Paul and alternates between 1973, the year Calico Joe and Warren were in the game together, and thirty years later when all three characters are still living lives vastly influenced by the events of that year. Warren not only contributed to one of the game's great "what ifs," but also through his wretched performance as a father and husband, ensured that his family would bear the influence of being of and with Warren Tracey.
I won't go into more because detail would give away the drama to this slim book. Although not nearly as long as most Grisham novels, this story is worth the read. It is perfect for a single-evening immersion, so if you are the type of reader who likes to occasionally fully immerse yourself for a couple of hours with a good story and see it through to the end, this is your book. It reminded me somewhat of Grisham's book "The Testament" in that it touches on some of the same themes. It also is in the vein of "Bleachers" and "Painted House."
A good, though short, story that is engaging with a satisfying conclusion.
Often, young athletes take plenty of sideline coaching from their Dads, and it is not always positive. Paul Tracey had it harder than most as his dad was Warren Tracey, a major league pitcher. When Warren was playing for the Mets, one play involving a rookie will ruin their carreers with one pitch; and not just any rookie, but one that was breaking records from his first at bat in the major leagues, Joe Castle aka Calico Joe.
that one play ruined both careers and this is the story of what happened when the spotlight dimmed. 30 years later, Paul Tracey attempts to re-unite the two players. Will both parties agree to meet? Will the truth be told after all these years? Will forgiveness be withheld or given? Will a father and son finally come to terms with their relationship?
To find out you will have to read this memorable story filled with wonderfully developed characters and love, hate, forgiveness, and redeemation.
It is not just a baseball story.
I must say, I began this book very conflicted. First off, I am not a big baseball fan, AT ALL! The sport has always bored me and I have had no interest in it whatsoever. However, John Grisham is one of my absolute favorite authors. So here was the dilemma I was in: My favorite author writing on one of my least favorite topics. How would it go?
After finishing the book, I was not conflicted at all! I absolutely loved the book. While the book definitely centers around baseball as the skeleton for its storyline, it moves in the same rapid and gripping style that one would expect from a Grisham book. Your emotions are stirred to love Joe Castle and hate Warren Tracey, but just when you think you have it all figured out, you begin to have just a little bit of compassion for Tracey and are conflicted in your emotions.
I think that Grisham found the perfect harmony between length and in-depth details in this work. There is enough baseball jargon to engage the avid fan, but not enough to turn away someone like myself.
Go buy the book and enjoy this short, but excellently written piece of American fiction. Grisham has hit one out of the park in this one (pun intended).
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Doubleday Publishing for providing me with a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Most people don't pick up John Grisham's books looking for a deep read that brings to light new insights into human character. They likely pick up his books looking instead for a captivating story that keeps them interested from page to page, chapter to chapter. For me, this book did just that.
The story was interesting and the way Grisham bounced between the 1973 season when Paul Tracey was an 11-year old kid and the present as he sought to bring some closure to what happened during that season was well done. I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that the characters, while rather simple, are one-dimensional. Some real emotions are dealt with: grief, bitterness, grudges, and forgiveness. In all, it's a story about family, relationships, growing up, and reconciliation. And it's a story that is worth the little bit of time it takes to read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have all of Jon Grisham's books. Most are amazing but not so much this onePublished 1 day ago by Linda Brandlein
Well written with a simple story about "what could have been" for the Chicago Cubs. Good quick read on an airline or for enjoyment. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Mountain 5 OK
Something different from Grisham. If you enjoy baseball (or even if you don't) this is an easy, sentimental story easily told. Don't be daunted by chapter one. Worth the read.Published 9 days ago by Rex Jory
I enjoyed Joe Calico,' by John Grisham. It's a fine story about the life of a Major League Baseball player who was a rotten father and lived a life filled with regrets. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Libby Chester
Not a typical Grisham. He was out of his element and it showed. It felt like a rush job. Still, a quick read that held my attention.Published 13 days ago by Annie