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Baseball season is in full swing. Most Cards fans (or Cubs fans or Red Sox fans – whatever your colors may be) around here are fully aware of this fact.
If watching the games and perusing the stats isn’t enough for you, John Grisham’s most recent novel is set up around America’s favorite pastime. Calico Joe is the story of a record-breaking rookie whose career takes an unexpected turn.
The narrator of the novel is a grown man, Paul Tracey, who lived and breathed baseball as a young boy. This may have stemmed from the fact that his father was a pitcher for the NY Mets. We find out that Warren Tracy, Paul’s father, is not a good man or role model. Instead, Paul finds himself drawn to an incredible rookie. Joe Castle, quickly nicknamed Calico Joe after his hometown, is thrown from a minor league team in Midland, Texas into the majors to play for the Cubs. He hits homers left and right (literally, he hits both ways) and gives hope to the Cubs’ season. On August 24, 1973 three characters’ lives change forever as the Cubs and the Mets square off in New York.
The story isn’t just about the sport, but also about a father/son relationship that no one would wish for. Abuse and bad memories sprinkle the pages as Paul makes it clear just how little his father means to him. He probably loves his handcrafted baseball scrapbooks – special ones for special players or significant summers – more than his own flesh and blood father.
Calico Joe is a quick read, sitting at just under 200 pages with large type. Statistics are included along with every hit, but this doesn’t take away from the story for fans that don’t know numbers. The emotions of the parallel story of family and forgiveness make this a book for everyone – even those who have never watched an inning in their lives.
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