Just like a good baseball movie, I also love a good baseball book and John Grisham has given me one with his latest novel, Calico Joe. I knew it was only a matter of time before Grisham wrote a novel with a baseball theme because of his love of the game. He had aspirations of being a baseball player, but that dream fell short when he didn’t make his college team and those of us who love his novels are kind of glad he didn’t make it!
Calico Joe is the story of a baseball fanatic son, Paul Tracey, whose father Warren is a major league pitcher for the New York Mets. Seems ideal right? There’s a problem though because Warren is a big jerk, who is despised by his teammates and feared by his family. Warren won’t even have a catch with his son without his masochistic tendencies coming out. See he’s one of those pitchers that gets pleasure out of hitting a batter that crowds the plate and he is trying to teach his young son his idea of pitcher fundamentals. Not a nice guy!
Warren isn’t the type of dad that would take kindly to Paul admiring other baseball players, so Paul keeps scrapbooks on all his favorite players hidden in his room. When young Joe Castle from Calico, Arkansas is called up to the show to play for the Chicago Cubs and becomes a rookie phenomenon, he is idolized by fans around the country including Paul Tracey. Naturally Paul has a scrapbook on Joe and naturally his father finds it. If you’re thinking this isn’t a good thing you’d be right!
With Joe breaking rookie records right and left, stadiums are selling out wherever he plays, baseball has never seen anything like him. So when the Mets host the Cubs in a sold out stadium, with Paul’s dad as the starting pitcher, you just know that Warren’s ego won’t be able to resist teaching a lesson to rookie Calico Joe.
This is a great book and one of Grisham’s best in my opinion.