Jim would have loved Stephen King's novella, Blockade Billy. He would have been so satisfied with a story that combined so much of what he loved, Stephen King, baseball, the story of a catcher, and a twisted ending only King could conceive.
George Grantham, the retired third base coach for the New Jersey Titans, tells "Mr. King" the story of a forgotten ballplayer, William "Blockade Billy" Blakely, and the 1957 season. The team had one terrible day in spring training when they lost both catchers. The catcher that showed up was a young man from Iowa, Billy Blakely. He was a little odd, talked to himself, and echoed back what others said. But, the team's star pitcher took a liking to him. And, even more important, the kid was so dangerous behind the plate that runners from third couldn't get past him. After he ruined one runner for life, and proved he could hit, the fans caught on. Soon, he had a nickname, and the fans showed up with their signs, "Road closed by order of Blockade Billy."
King himself said he wrote a story about the old timers, and the baseball he loves. And, the book has actual ballplayers on the teams playing the Titans. Combined with the story told to "Mr. King," the book has a ring of authenticity. And, once you've seen the reproduction baseball card with "Blockade Billy's" photo, you'll swear the story is true.
But, this is a Stephen King story. He's already won an O.Henry Award. And, he'll blindside you with an ending you don't expect. Oh, there's foreshadowing, and you know the story of Blockade Billy isn't going to have a happy ending. But, I doubt that you'll see it coming.
Stephen King's website is www.stephenking.com
Blockade Billy by Stephen King. Simon & Schuster, ©2010. ISBN 9781451608212 (hardcover), 101p.
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book