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Calico Joe by John Grisham

Calico Joe (edition 2012)

by John Grisham

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1,041738,103 (3.71)41
Title:Calico Joe
Authors:John Grisham
Info:Doubleday (2012), Edition: 1st Printing, Hardcover, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:baseball, fiction, mlb, father and son, abuse, alcoholism, divorce, reconciliation

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Calico Joe by John Grisham


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Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
This was my favorite Grisham book I've read to date! I have always been a fan of his work, but he takes a step away from the law-thrillers here and writes a story that stays true to baseball, but much more about a boy's relationship with his father and what happens to a promising ball player, Joe Castle. Grisham did a great job at creating characters that have such an impact in less than 200 pages. This is a book you could easily read in one sitting if you've got the time. Highly recommended. ( )
  masteryoda716 | Aug 31, 2016 |
If you are a baseball fan, this is a great read. It's a small book so doesn't take very long. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
Review: Calico Joe by John Grisham. This is a fiction story I felt was well written. The content held my interest to the end. It helped knowing information about baseball and having six brothers who played baseball growing up. Plus, I’m a Red Sox fan and I have knowledge of some of the great names mentioned in the book of other team members. The book provided felt emotions, grief, bitterness, grudges, and forgiveness. It was also a story about family, relationships, growing up, and reconciliation. The story was narrated by Paul Tracey, an eleven year old boy and his adult self relating a story back and forth from 1973 to 2003. In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy’s prodigy and the greatest rookie, who was from Calico Rock, Arkansas and played for the Chicago Cubs. However, he was the son of Warren Tracey, a pitcher for the New York Mets, who was an alcoholic, begrudging and abusive. When he was sober he could play a fair game of baseball but Paul still favored Joe Castle over his father. Warren was abusive toward his son, daughter and their mother and argumentative with many people. Paul at one time wanted to be a pitcher but his father damage his dream while he was still playing softball for his school. However, Paul was still interested in watching and keeping up with baseball players for some time until the day his father played against the Chicago Cubs and pitched a beaning (pitch aimed for the players head) fast ball at Joe Castle. The rookie went down, unconscious and taken off the field by an ambulance, stayed in a coma for weeks and never was the same. That’s the day Paul, eleven years old, quit baseball, wouldn’t go to any more major league games, and wouldn’t watch baseball on television. From that day forward he had very little to do with his father. Over a thirty year span he would go years without seeing his father, who his mother finally divorced. At that time his father lost his baseball career, went through four more wives and tried to make it playing golf in Florida. Than Paul heard his father had pancreas cancer, surgery, and a few months to live. Paul was married then and had three daughters of his own and was happy how his life turned out but he felt he needed to see his father one more time. Not for himself but for Calico Joe….He wanted his father (before he died) to visit Joe Castle and admit he threw that beaning pitch on purpose. His father had been lying for years saying it was a mistake pitch he never meant to do harm. However, his eleven year old son was sitting in the bleachers and seen his father face before he threw that ball and his son knew he meant to hit Joe Castle….His father refused to admit the truth and apologize to Joe Castle. Within a month his father agreed only because his son Paul blackmailed him into going. At the age of fifty-six his father died but Joe Castle got his apology….. ( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Grisham's novel is set in the volatile world of Major League Baseball and when Joe Castle from Calico Rock, Arkansas is called to the majors, his life is never the same. Joe dazzles the fans and become an icon in the world of baseball. Paul Tracey, a young son of a Mets pitcher, is one of Joe's steadfast fans. At a Mets vs Cubs game, Paul cheers for both his father and his idol. Grisham tells a tale of one man who is innocent and earnest and another who is a bully, a ladies' man, and passion-filled. Paul respects and tolerates his father, but he aspires to be like Joe. Then the unthinkable happens, Paul's dad hits Calico Joe with a pitch. The injury forces Joe from baseball and Warren soon retires amidst guilt and sorrow. Grisham weaves a tale of human resilience as many years after the accident, Paul convinces his dying father to meet with Joe and apologize for his action. Joe readily forgives Warren and Paul sees some redemption in his father. Paul Tracey is a static character in his admiration for Joe and his indignation for Warren. Grisham's character, Paul can be compared to Faulkner's character, Sarty in the short story "Barn Burning." The relationships between fathers and sons are quite similar, however, the resolution of both texts are opposite. These texts can also be used to compare the father and son relationships depicted in Death of a Salesman. Finally, Calico Joe is a wonderful resource for discussing the literary device of fate. Was it fate that brought Joe to the major league and fate that forced him out, or merely human jealousy and brutality.

Introductory Resource: http://www.npr.org/2012/04/07/150183898/calico-joe-a-would-be-legend-rediscovere... ( )
  sgemmell | Apr 20, 2016 |
This is a gentler, easier read than Grisham's legal fiction. I was able to predict the plot before it happened, which might bother some readers. The narrative jumps between the past and the present. The past is tied to a young baseball fan who happens to be the son of a major league pitcher. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Feb 12, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:09 -0400)

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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.

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