From March 21, 2016
If I am being honest, the book took me by surprise. I didn’t realize how much I would like it. To me baseball books are all the same. Don’t get me wrong, I like them and the fact that they’re all the same doesn’t really bother me too much. When you love the game, it’s perfectly acceptable. But what threw me for a shock was how this book made me feel like I felt when I was 11 years old.
It put me back on my old little league field, the old benches in the dugout with fresh paint, the dirt and gum wrappers on the floor. When I would stand on the mound, my weakling little arm feeling like rubber, six innings in with pitch counts not to be considered for another 25 years or so. Letting up hit after hit and that rare feeling of amazement when I struck someone out. I may not have been all that good at the game, but the game was always faithful, true and honest with me. She was the love of my young life.
I think if I could rate books in terms of baseballs and not stars I would give it five baseballs … this way those who are like me – men and women who still daydream about playing every spring and summer day of their life – would know this is a baseball book worth reading. Because it is.
But to the rest of the world, I’m not so sure. You can call it a Father-Son book if you want. You wouldn’t be wrong to do so. But we all take different things from books, don’t we?
It allowed me to have flashbacks of a wonderful childhood when baseball meant everything. It was all that mattered. Batting averages and RBIs, extra base hits and ground balls with eyes; dying quails and drives in the gap. The perfume mixture of a leather baseball glove, Red Man chewing tobacco and pine tar. Oh dear God, I swear to you, if they could bottle that mixture and make it a perfume it would save marriages.
Just the feel of the ball hitting the sweet spot of the bat. When you know you’ve hit safely in the gap, your confidence as you round first, just like the big leaguer’s on television and that slight chance you can stretch it into a double. My God it’s so romantic. I just don’t know anything else like it.
All of this, and so much more, were the images I conjured up when reading this little story.
Do you love the game? Are you a nerd and daydream about breaking up double plays and unsuspectingly drag bunting a ball down the line when the corners are playing you deep? If you are and if you do, read Calico Joe. It won’t take you long to get through, but the memory of it will last for a long time.