Thursday, August 05, 2010

"Blockade Billy" By Stephen King

"Blockade Billy"
By Stephen King
Published 2010
by Cemetery Dance Publications
144 pages

As many fans know, Stephen King is a baseball fan, especially of the Boston Red Sox, having written the book "Faithful..." chronicling the Red Sox' 2004 season. This time around King has mixed his passion of baseball with his talent for writing chilling stories. "Blockade Billy" takes a fictional baseball team that could have been contenders for the series if not for the dark tale of their strange catcher, William "Blockade Billy" Blakely.

This story goes back to the golden age of baseball and tells the struggling tale of the New Jersey Titans. The 1950s was a decade of real baseball heroes and Blockade Billy was on the road to become one of those heroes. The Titans seemed to have problems with their catchers during spring training. The star catcher was arrested for killing a woman due to drunk driving and another was severely injured while taking a collision to put a man out at home. The Titans send out to their farm team to find someone to at least start their season, until a replacement can be found.

Turns out that replacement is sent to them from Iowa. "Blockade Billy" gets his name during his short stint in the big leagues because the road to home was closed due to his blockade style. Billy was also a great hitter so the package deal came in with this young farm boy. During one exciting play at the plate a player gets cut and while nothing can be pinned on Billy the equipment manager has his concerns.

King mixes in some of the notable players at that time to make this story seem true and the constant reference to how the record of the team being erased from the books due the dark history behind Billy makes you want to look up the player roster for the New Jersey Titans. In fact the early publications of the hardcover of this book came with a promotional baseball card depicting "Blockade Billy." The story is told in a way that seems as if King were sitting in a home interviewing the old equipment manager and he is reliving the memories.

This book also comes with a second story, "Morality." This second story is that of a struggling young couple, barely able to pay their bills get an indecent proposal of sorts. The wife is a nurse that has taken on a job of taking care of a pastor after he as suffered a stroke. The husband is trying to bring in money by taking on substitute teaching jobs while trying to write a book.

The pastor is about to die and says to the wife that if she were to help him commit one sin he would pay her over $200,000. This money would allow them to move to a better home and allow the husband to finish the book. Is the 2 hundred grand worth the cost? I won't tell you the sin, but I will tell you it changes the young couple forever.

Two great stories from a master of suspense. Enjoy.

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