King book club, book #3 – normal warning
Published in 2010, this is King’s inevitable answer to the pleas, “write a baseball story”. And so he did.
It is gritty, hard, fast-paced, and well-versed in the vernacular of the time it is set in.
In 1957, William Blakely joins a team floundering and, through his stellar play and stoic demeanor, stirs the team to rise above and make a run at a pennant. “Billy” is the teams new catcher, and he is so adept at blocking the plate, he earns the ever cool knickname “Blockade Billy”. He hits as good as he fields and never has much to say.
There are head-scratchers along the way, mysterious injuries popping up on opposing players when they challenge Billy at the plate. Granny, the coach, suspects there are things afoot, but does nothing because ball players are a superstitious lot and they don’t mess with the grain when the chickens are laying good, so to speak.
“That’s a good play, there, Billy”
Eventually, Billy is found to be Eugene, a former farm hand of the Blakely’s, who are discovered rotting at the family farm, presumably murdered by Billy.
The police come to collect young master Eugene, but he evades capture long enough to slice the throat of the umpire of his last game, obeying the crowds shouted orders to “kill the ump”.
Finally, “Billy”/Eugene is taken into custody and the teams games are forfeited.
This was an awesome little tale, and I wish there were more, but maybe it’s better there isn’t. Maybe it would be ruined by more story. Some things are just meant to be short and sweet.
King has done well with his baseball story, and I give it a solid 7.5 out of 10. Well done, master author sir, well done.