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Calico Joe by John Grisham
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Calico Joe (edition 2012)

by John Grisham (Author)

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7915911,615 (3.71)35
Member:MikeBriggs
Title:Calico Joe
Authors:John Grisham (Author)
Info:Doubleday (2012), Edition: Limited, Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library, Brooklyn Collection, Read, Read in 2012, Read in April, Sports Related
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Baseball

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Calico Joe by John Grisham

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Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
4.5 stars.

John Grisham, obviously, is a very accomplished writer of most tense legal thrillers, all of which are best sellers. Every once in a while, he strays from that genre and writes simply fantastic day-in-the-life type books of which I I can't get enough. This is one of those books, and fits right along with "Playing for Pizza" and "A Painted House". Those two books weren't well received, but for some reason, I like those a whole lot more that the legal thrillers. There's something about how he captures emotions and passion of simple people, people with dreams and goals, people with problems, and how events often overcome both the dreams and the problems.

This is a quick read about a young hot-shot ball player out of Calico Rock, Arkansas, his meteoric rise in the majors and the end of his career after just a few games in the summer of 1973. It is also the story of a young boy who idolized him, and the impact Calico Joe had on his life.

Highly recommended for baseball fans, and fans of good, solid writing. ( )
  ssimon2000 | Aug 14, 2014 |
This book was good, but was not as good as I had expected. It was a slow book and was hard to understand at first, but the plot was somewhat interesting so I kept reading. This was not as good as John Grisham's other books that I have read, but it was a refreshing change from the books that I have read lately. ( )
  blog_gal | Jul 26, 2014 |
I love baseball and I've very much enjoyed John Grisham's legal thrillers in past years. However, I wasn't necessarily expecting to enjoy a baseball novel by John Grisham. I'm not sure why. I suppose I assumed it would be a sappy, family-oriented, feel-good novel that wouldn't live up to his previous books. But I was wrong. I liked it. A lot. (And being a National League and Chicago Cubs fan myself, it didn't hurt that he highlighted the Cubs and Mets in this particular story.)

This is a novel, but it read more like historical fiction or possibly nonfiction/memoir. In fact, often while reading it, I wanted it to be such. I easily found myself getting wrapped up in this story of a rising baseball star, tragically struck in the head by a pitch. The story is narrated by the son of a rival player, who idolizes not his father, but the young victim whose career ended way too early.

I loved this book for many reasons -- being a big baseball fan myself only one of them -- but this story could easily appeal to anyone, even to someone with minimal to no knowledge of baseball. It wasn't a flawless story (a little excessive drama nearer the end, with the father/son confrontation), but definitely worth a recommendation. ( )
  indygo88 | Jun 10, 2014 |
I'm conflicted about my review. It was a nice book overall. A lot about baseball - and you kind of knew what the ending would be. Paul's father was a hard man, and a pitcher for the Mets on the downslide of his career. Joe is a newbie rookie for the cubs, who is magical on the field. Until Paul's father throws a "beanball" ending Joe's career. Fast forward 30 years, and Paul is trying to make amends before his estranged father passes away. ( )
  nancynova | Mar 22, 2014 |
The difficulty I had with this book was in understanding, really understanding, why Paul, the narrator, is so determined to set up the book's central event, and why he even bothers with his father, who even in his final months makes Ty Cobb look like Mister Rogers. But setting that aside, this is a brief, enjoyable, thoughtful story of baseball, fathers and sons, and small towns. Calico Joe may be a fictional character, but his story is interwoven with real life to the extent that the book leaves one wondering what might have been, for Joe and the Cubs, had it not been for that jerk Warren Tracey. ( )
  SLWert | Jan 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
Review Written by Bernie Weisz, Historian Pembroke Pines, Florida, U.S.A. September 30, 2012 Contact: BernWei1@aol.com Title of Review: The Code of Baseball, A Ruined Childhood & A Trip Down Memory Lane!
Anyone that became a teenager in the early 1970's will immediately take to John Grisham's "Calico Joe." Especially one that grew up in New York and liked baseball. I know, I was one of them. Grisham's book revolves around a washed up, aging picture for the New York Mets named Paul Tracy and his mercurial, volatile relationship with his son Paul. Added in is a rookie phenom for the Cubs named Joe Castle. Castle, dubbed "Calico Joe," sets major league records in his 1973 rookie debut for consecutive games safely hit. Paul Castle fell in love with Calico Joe, even keeping a scrapbook of his accolades unbeknownst to his father. Grisham portrays Warren as a philanderer, a beanball artist, a drunkard and an abusive husband and father. Shades of the Tony Conigliaro incident are introduced when the Cubs come into town to play the Mets with the National League East pennant on the line. With Paul and his disgruntled mother in the stands at Shea Stadium, the two watch as Castle goes up against his father after successfully pounding Warren for a hit his first time up.

The "code of baseball" is introduced, at least Warren's conception of it. If a batsman shows up the pitcher in any way the previous at bat, or is a cocky rookie, the next at bat will surely be a beanball. However, Warren was a cruel, mean "headhunter," and demanded Paul be like him in playing Little League. Without any remorse, the senior Tracy will throw at anyone's head as revenge, rarely missing. In Castle's second at bat, the lives of both the Castle and Tracy are forever changed. The ironies involved and the unpredictable twists of fate make this novel truly amazing. The names thrown out, e.g. Tom Seaver, Bobby Murcer, Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins, etc., bring back such vivid memories of a reader's lost youthhood that it is impossible to not love and embrace this fantastically written novel. Even more realistic are the memories Grisham introduces, such as his descriptions of the Long Island Railroad being ridden, Willets Point in Flushing and both old Shea and Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, etc., with fitting descriptions of the temperaments of the fans of each. Grisham fast forwards forty years later and cleverly plays out a scenario involving Warren, dying of cancer, a caustic Paul and a forever enfeebled Joe Castle.

The realism is strikingly apparent, regardless of Grisham's introduction of a fictional protagonist. In fact, the author cleverly let former Cub infielder Don Kessinger proof read and correct "Calico Joe" for realism. Kessinger's interjections make this story so absorbing, captivating and realistic that anyone reading this cannot but be spellbound by "Calico Joe." Memories flash of Carl Mays, Ray Chapman and Tony C. Mays was a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. Despite impressive career statistics, he is primarily remembered for throwing a beanball on August 16, 1920, that struck and killed Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, making Chapman the only Major League player to die as a direct result of an injury sustained on the field. Similarly, Tony Conigliaro nicknamed "Tony C" played for the Boston Red Sox during their "Impossible Dream" season of 1967. He was hit in the face by a pitch from Jack Fisher, causing a severe eye injury and derailing his career. Though he would make a dramatic comeback from the injury, his career was not the same afterwards. Whether you like baseball or not, "Calico Joe" has something for any reader, guaranteeing a satisfying read!
added by BERNIE2260 | editAmazon, Bernie Weisz (Sep 30, 2012)
 
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The tumor in my father's pancreas was removed last week in an operation that lasted five hours and was more difficult than his surgeons had expected.
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Book description
It’s the summer of 1973, and Joe Castle is the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone has ever seen. The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas, dazzles Chicago Cubs fans as he hits home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shatters all rookie records. Calico Joe quickly becomes the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing New York Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faces Calico Joe, Paul is in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his dad. Then Warren throws a fastball that will change their lives forever.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385536070, Hardcover)


John Grisham
John Grisham
Amazon Q & A with John Grisham

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:42 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This story, based on the Cubs and Mets 1973 season follows the divergent paths of Joe Castle, a rookie hitter for the Chicago Cubs and Warren Tracey, a hard-throwing Mets pitcher.

(summary from another edition)

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