sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 11, 2010

into the stacks: blockade billy
posted by soe 12:52 am

Blockade Billy by Stephen King

From the jacket: “Even the most diehard baseball fans don’t know the true story of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely. He may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, but today no one remembers his name. He was the first — and only — player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game’s history.”

My take: Doesn’t that teaser just make you want to run out and pick up a copy?

The world’s creepiest writer (and unabashed baseball fan) chronicles in this novella the uncensored reminiscences of the former third base coach and equipment manager of the New Jersey Titans, who looks back at the brief but lurid career of their 1957 catcher, William Blakely, better known as “Blockade Billy.”

Due to back-to-back crises involving their first-string and backup catchers during spring training, the team was forced to call up Blakely from the minors. George “Granny” Grantham met him at the ballpark the morning of Opening Day to get him set up and to keep him from running back to the Iowa farm he’d driven in from when he realized the enormity of the task before him. But from his arrival, Blakely exuded a quiet confidence in his ability to play in the Majors.

And he did. He caught perfectly well. He hit safely in 22 straight games. And, as his nickname suggests, he protected the plate like no one’s business. Unafraid of a collision, he put his shoulder down and sent several players who mistakenly thought they could shove past him flying through the air. For roughly a month, Blakely was flying high. Or so everyone thought…

Granny, through King, tells a convincing story of when baseball was still undisputedly America’s favorite pastime and when its players were cut from a coarser cloth.*

Pages: 112

*I wanted to share a couple other things, but they didn’t fit in smoothly up above: 1) Despite having the King name attached, this was not a horror novel. Older elementary school kids would be perfectly fine reading it for content (and it, in fact, reminds me slightly of a couple of books that made the rounds when I was in fourth grade). However, the salty language makes this a better match for older teens or adults, at least those comfortable with locker room talk. 2) This is really more of a long short story, even, than a novella, as the book’s footprint is small and the type is large. It will take the average reader less than an afternoon to read it. I suggest putting it aside for a prolonged rain delay. 3) My favorite part of the book may have been where Granny (and King) call out George Will on his economic interpretation of baseball. Yes, I am a nerd, why did you ask?

Category: books. There is/are 1 Comment.

I’m glad you liked it! While I liked it, I think it annoyed me w/ how short it was – his short stories are longer than it is! 😉 Hehehhe!

Comment by Jenn 08.12.10 @ 7:23 am