Saturday, May 26, 2012

John Grisham's Calico Joe

Calico Joe
by John Grisham
Doubleday (April 10, 2012)
208 pages
ISBN:   0385536070
For teens and adults

I hear people say that baseball is so boring, but they are so wrong.  Granted, baseball, played in a park, is a laid-back summer sport.  You hang out, drinking beer and eating dogs and Cracker Jack, just watching the game progress at its own pace.  (Baseball, unlike other major sports, is not played by the clock.)  All of a sudden something exciting will happen.  A home run.  Three strikeouts.  A double play.  An impossible catch in the outfield.  There's real drama in this sport.

I can't get enough of good baseball stories either.  Like Calico Joe.  Calico Joe, Grisham's first baseball novel, is my first Grisham novel ever--yes I'm coming late to the table--but it won't be my last.  Calico Joe is the story of one pitch that ends three baseball careers.  Paul Tracy, only twelve in 1973 when the story begins chronologically, is rooting for two players:  Warren Tracy, his dad cum Mets pitcher, and the Cub's wunderkind rookie, Calico Joe.  Thirty years later, Paul is on a healing mission to bring these two men together again to bring closure to their story.

Calico Joe is a novel of what could have been and takes its place beside W. P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe and Bernard Malamud's The Natural.  The best baseball stories involve the loss of baseball and an attempt at finding the way back to the most romantic of American sports.  Baseball's not just about today; unlike any other sport, baseball is about history and who we were.  In all of these novels of baseball the past and the present intersect to redeem the sport for the main characters.  Think Shoeless Joe's Ray Kinsella, The Natural's Roy Hobbs, and now Calico Joe's Paul Tracy.

Just as Shoeless Joe (you may know it by its movie name Field of Dreams) is populated with Black-Sox-era players like Shoeless Joe Jackson, Joe's cast includes baseball greats from the seventies.  In one scene Willie Mays, now in his last baseball season, converses memorably with Paul in the Mets' dugout.

Click here to buy Calico Joe from Amazon.


  1. I've never been in to baseball, but I do like stories about it. I will try this one. -T

    1. I was the same way. I was never into baseball, but I liked stories about it. Once my son started playing, I got into it. Now I love it in real life and in fiction.