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Calico Joe
Calico Joe
Author: John Grisham
Whatever happened to Calico Joe? — It began quietly enough with a pulled hamstring. The first baseman for the Cubs AAA affiliate in Wichita went down as he rounded third and headed for home. The next day, Jim Hickman, the first baseman for the Cubs, injured his back. The team suddenly needed someone to play first, so they reached down to their AA...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780385536073
ISBN-10: 0385536070
Publication Date: 4/10/2012
Pages: 208
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 85 ratings
Publisher: Doubleday
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Calico Joe on + 702 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I really liked this story. It is a quick read. I am a sports fan, but not particularly a baseball fan. It is more a story of forgiveness and making amends than anything else. It is told by the son of a pro baseball player who was mean spirited and caused devastating consequences to lives and careers, particularly the famous rookie for the Chicago Cubs, "Calico Joe". The son tries to convince his father to own up to his actions before his impending death.
reviewed Calico Joe on + 745 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A really enjoyable baseball yarn about a young rookie phenom, Calico Joe Castle, whose career with the Chicago Cubs in 1973 was cut short by an unfortunate event. The story is told from the perspective of a young fan of Joe's whose father, Warren Tracey, was the pitcher for the New York Mets who threw the intentional beanball that ended Joe's career. The story is much more than a baseball story, delving into the family life of the Traceys, the abuses of the father, Warren, and how they led to a life full of misgivings for him. It also tells the story of Joe Castle and his amazing short rookie season, as well as the story of him and his brothers as they try for careers in baseball. It is evident that Grisham is a fan of baseball and I would highly recommend this one to any baseball or sports fan.
reviewed Calico Joe on + 520 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
John Grisham made a name for himself writing novels about lawyers. I've read a few and enjoyed them, and I'm sure that their success has helped him attain some level of financial security. However, after listening to the audio version of Calico Joe, I realize that Mr. Grisham's talents would have been well served had he instead become a baseball writer / columnist.

Calico Joe is the story of a budding baseball superstar and a journeyman pitcher, and of the circumstances that tied the two men together. Told by the latter's son, who is an active participant in the story, Calico Joe is mostly a love letter to the sport of baseball. To listen to Grisham's text as read by Erik Singer is to evoke memories of listening to the finest baseball announcers describing a game in the early 1970s. No, it's like listening to the finest baseball announcers describing THE game in the 70s the ideal / idealized game before the best players shifted teams thanks to free agency, before the greatest players of that era were forced into retirement by the passage of time.

I would like to complain that the book is too short but in reality, it's not. This novella is not padded with extraneous words, scenes, or subplots; it tells the story it needs to tell and then allows the reader move on with his or her life. Hopefully, a life at least slightly changed for the better by having read Calico Joe.

This book gets my highest recommendation.
reviewed Calico Joe on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Hard to believe this is his book. Boring would be the best way to describe the book. I think he first wrote this to be a short story, but it was a little too long, so he expanded it to make a 200 page book to honor a publisher contract. Despite what I told my sister in law, she still wanted the book. I guess Grisham fans are loyal, but this is a book worth skipping.
reviewed Calico Joe on + 198 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I picked this book up primarily because of its baseball theme and while I was kept interested and enjoyed the time shifts; the ending was ultimately predictable. It is very short and probably should have been a short story instead. For nostalgia it is interesting; if you are looking for something gripping and unexpected, this is not it.
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reviewed Calico Joe on + 283 more book reviews
A very quick, enjoyable read, especially to a baseball fan. Highly recommended.
reviewed Calico Joe on + 353 more book reviews
I loved this book. Brought back memories of my childhood and love of baseball. My hero was Tony C of the Red Sox who got beaned in the eye. This book gives a great side of a baseball fan, human nature, and redeemtion. As the man in this story I too have not watched basedball for 20 years. One pitch can ruin many lives.
reviewed Calico Joe on + 119 more book reviews
Review Written by Bernie Weisz, Historian Pembroke Pines, Florida, U.S.A. September 30, 2012 Contact: 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!

Book Wiki

Joe Castle (Primary Character)
Chicago Cubs (Primary Character)
New York Mets (Primary Character)
Major League Baseball (Primary Character)
Den Kessinger (Minor Character)
Important Events