Stephen King is a baseball fan. I am a baseball fan. What’s notable about this? Aside from the superficial connection of two Americans enjoying America’s favorite pastime, not much…
Then Stephen King wrote Blockade Billy, a novella about the dark past of a briefly prominent baseball player. How does this change the aforementioned connection? It doesn’t It just means that this baseball fan had the opportunity to enjoy that baseball fan’s ode to old school baseball.
From Goodreads: Even the most die-hard baseball fans don’t know the true story of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely. He may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, but today no one remembers his name. He was the first–and only–player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game’s history.
Every effort was made to erase any evidence that William Blakely played professional baseball, and with good reason. Blockade Billy had a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today. His secret was much, much worse… and only Stephen King, the most gifted storyteller of our age, can reveal the truth to the world, once and for all.
2007 was a tough sports year for me. I am from Boston, but live in Colorado. 2007 was the year that the Boston Red Sox played the Colorado Rockies in the World Series (which I went to, cross that off my life list). They are my two favorite teams and they played against each other. The good news: Boston won another World Series. The bad news: Colorado epically lost the World Series.
As bad as that loss was for Colorado, it wasn’t nearly as devastating as what the Newark Titans face in Stephen King’s novella Blockade Billy. The story is narrated by George “Granny” Grantham, reluctant retiree and current zombie hotel resident. Granny’s narration is a pleasant mix of profanity and a deep love for the game as it was played in the 1950’s – by hard hitting, steroid free, nearly anonymous men earning only a pittance.
Blockade Billy is a light, yet dark read about a player you’d love to see in action, but fear any other time . It’s no secret that King is a die-hard BoSox fan (just read a few of his novels, references abound) and thus it’s satisfying to read a story where the author’s love for the subject shines through. Is it essential King? No. Is it essential for fans of King? Probably.
Despite the fact that it’s a low-grade horror novella about a lost 1950’s baseball season, it’s lovely to read about an era in baseball where the game was more important than stardom or salary. So don’t get me started on the current affairs of the New York Yankees. There is a saying among New Englanders: My two favorite teams are the Red Sox and whoever beats the Yankees. Indeed.
So what’s better than a mysteriously erased baseball season, a talented, but simple orphan, and a seemingly abandoned farm? I’ll tell you. It’s a semi-fictitious creature that starts out as an undeveloped embryo embedded in the brain, ends up a vicious killer, but only desires to be a pulp fiction writer. However, I like both scenarios. Whether writing about a lost baseball season or a violent pulp fiction writer, King is worth reading.
So, baseball. There is very little I would eat at a baseball stadium, not the burgers, not the nachos, and most definitely not the hot dogs. I might eat a pretzel and if there’s a choice, this is the one I’d pick.