My rating: 4 of 5 stars
John Grisham never fails to deliver. Some of his work is better than others, but I was engrossed from the moment I devoured the first paragraph, possibly because I love baseball more than how well the book was written. Calico Joe, a baseball phenom, has his career devastated by a vicious, self-serving, “old school” pitcher who believed that the pitcher is the king of the field, and the hitters have to respect him. When a batter demonstrates no respect – or worse, shows disrespect, the pitcher’s job is to throw at him. Brush him back. Let him know who’s in charge.
Warren Tracey, the declining old school pitcher for the Mets does just that – only he takes it too far, throwing at Joe’s head. The injuries weren’t just to Joe, but to an entire world of baseball fans and to the game itself.
The story is written from the point of view of Tracey’s son, who witnessed the event at 11 years of age and never quite got over it. That one beanball was a tragedy that continued to inflict pain. Calico Joe is the saga of Tracey’s son’s quest for justice for Joe – and redemption for his dad; all three of them deeply wounded by the aftermath of that one pitch. Maybe because I’ve struggled in my own relationship with my dad, I loved the book and can heartily recommend it to anyone who loves baseball.