Calico Joe

Calico Joe

Book - 2012
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A surprising and moving novel of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption, set in the world of Major League Baseball...

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 club in Midland, Texas, and called up a twenty-one-year-old named Joe Castle. He was the hottest player in AA and creating a buzz.

In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen. The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.

Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever...

In John Grisham's new novel the baseball is thrilling, but it's what happens off the field that makes CALICO JOE a classic.
ISBN: 9780385536073
Characteristics: 198 pages ;,22 cm.


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Calico Joe, written by John Grisham, is a fictional baseball story about a man named Joe Castle. Joe Castle is by far the best rookie to ever play in the history of baseball. Paul Tracey is a young fan of Joe Castle and the son of Warren Tracey, a pitcher for the New York Mets. Castle and Tracey have a formidable history that leaves Paul caught in the middle. I am not a huge baseball fan, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. At times, it was quite easy to forget this was a baseball story. I really like the overall tone of this story as it leaves the reader thinking about what caused the hate between Warren Tracey and Joe Castle. Once the conflict is finally revealed, the story becomes even more interesting and exciting. The narrative switches between the past and present, which can be difficult to hold onto at times, but overall, I did not have much of a problem. I would definitely recommend this novel for any reader and for I believe baseball fans in particular should give it a shot as it contains many elements baseball fans will enjoy. Altogether, I give this novel a 4.5 out of 5 as it has a solid story and characters that make the reader convey many emotions. Additionally, I believe that both the past and present storylines help elevate the overall impact of the novel. @Josh Martinez, grade 12, Yorba Linda Teen Book Bloggers

Feb 04, 2019

I thought this was good until the end. I found the end to be quite implausible. When the ‘bad guy’ does a complete turnaround I usually find that to be unlikely, and it makes the ending seem rushed.

Apr 26, 2017

Grisham's esteem in my mind soars with this terrific little tale, and I like baseball as much as I enjoy watching the guy suck out my septic tank--it is equally as boring to watch as golf, but Grisham tells a heartrending story with flawless aplomb.

Jul 26, 2015

best book by far that I have read by John Grisham. sensitive portrayal of a real-life situation, well constructed and not over-done

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "This book was suggested to me by my wife, knowing my love of baseball. This is a fast-paced tale of a startlingly good rookie ballplayer, coming up against a less than great rival. The resulting conflict is heartbreaking, and the denouement speaks to the power of forgiveness."

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "The title of this novel refers to Joe Castle of Calico Rock, Arkansas. In 1973, he is thirty years old and a rising phenom in baseball. He plays for the Chicago Cubs and is loved and admired by many. The narrator of the story is Paul Tracey. He is the son of Warren Tracey, pitcher for the New York Mets and the man responsible for intentionally hurting Joe Castle during a game and ending his career. Warren is described as an abusive husband and unloving, disinterested father and recollections of the past and present events support his damaged character. Thirty years later, Warren has terminal pancreatic cancer and Pual is determined for his father to make a personal apology to Joe. At first Pual tries to achieve this through blackmail, but ultimately Warren agrees and a meeting is facilitated through Clarence Rook (the owner and sports editor of the Calico Rock Record.) This book has a great deal of baseball drama and includes game action, statistics, and baseball terminology. The story is told by alternating the past with the present and is narrated entirely through Paul Tracey. I enjoyed the book and enthusiastically recommend it."

Jun 18, 2014

I LOVE baseball and this book was a great baseball read. It might be fiction but it seemed like I was reading non-fiction!

May 24, 2014


Mar 08, 2013

Once I got passed the baseball play-by-play, the story actually picked up. Now his usual kind of story, but good nonetheless.

Jan 15, 2013

Good "up-lifting" story in a very short read.

Dec 23, 2012

Tried three times. Couldn't get past the first chapter. Perhaps a love of baseball is a requirement.

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