Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
I enjoy Stephen King, but I wouldn't call myself a diehard fan of his work. I'm not the type who pre-orders his books as soon as they are available, or camps out in front of book stores to buy them hot off the presses. I'm a casual reader. I don't read everything he writes, and usually wait until the book is in paperback.
However, being a baseball fan, I had to read Blockade Billy. It's a baseball story, with a signature King twist.
King did get the baseball part right. It rings true, especially since he uses real players and places mixed in with the fictional ones. You can believe that ballplayers of that era really talked that way, and that it really was like that inside the locker room.
The actual story was kind of weak. I mean, it was interesting, but it was very short, and didn't really hold together if you think about it.
I find I can't discuss it without spoilers. If you don't want to know, bail out now. SPOILER WARNING!
I repeat, SPOILER WARNING! SPOILERS down below!
Blockade Billy, the star rookie catcher, turns out to be a serial killer. He's murdered the real Billy, and his family, and assumed his identity in order to get his chance in the show.
There's nothing supernatural about this story. Dirty tricks learned in his rough upbringing in an orphanage are one of the secrets of his success. But mostly, he's just very talented - much better at baseball than the real Billy. He's also just plain nuts. Everyone realizes this, but no one realizes how dangerous he is.
The ending is typically over the top. Blockade Billy takes the crowds' cries of "Kill the umpire!" literally, doing in the home plate umpire by slashing his throat.
The part that's really hard to swallow is the aftermath. We're supposed to believe that no one remembers Blockade Billy because his records were expunged, and none of the games he played in counted. They made up all 20 games by playing doubleheaders.
I find that hard to believe. They've had players playing under false names before, and players who committed crimes, and the games still counted. And 20 games is a heck of a lot of make-up.
It's also impossible to believe that people wouldn't remember it. It's not like you could keep it a secret; at the very least, you'd have to explain why all the games had to be re-played. It doesn't matter that the game was more local back then. A serial killer like Billy would be big news. Eddie Gein was big news in the '50s and is still remembered today, and Blockade Billy would have been, too.
But then, I guess Stephen King isn't exactly known for the believability of his stories. All in all, I would recommend this book for a baseball fan. It's rather overpriced for such a short work, but baseball fans will enjoy it.
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