Title/Author: Blockade Billy/Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No. of pages: 132
ISBN 13: 978-1-444-71619-1
In a nutshell
William ‘Blockade Billy’ Blakely, a player from Davenport Cornhuskers, a minor league team in Iowa, was asked to replace a catcher for New Jersey Titans until a suitable replacement could be found. Billy "wasn’t exactly right in the top story”, as Granny described. He had a tendency to refer to himself in third person and echo back what others said. The players thought him a little bit odd too, but like Granny, they all took a liking to him, even the arrogant, competitive pitcher Danny ‘Doo’ Dusen, who later referred to Billy as his lucky charm.
Billy became an overnight sensation with his uncanny ability to ‘block the plate’, that is to tag runners trying to score. However, beneath all that charm and talent, Billy hides a secret in his past, ‘a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today’. Granny noticed something very peculiar about Billy – a Band-Aid wrapped around his second finger with bearing no discernible cuts and players who meet him at the plate would end up wounded. But players and coaches cast such concerns aside, simply because, as Granny put it, “That kid was the real thing, crazy or not.”
What I liked/didn't quite like...
Loved the cover. Loved the illustration! As for the story,...I couldn’t quite follow at first, as I got lost in the many baseball terms. I might not have turned the pages if not for the funny, foul-mouthed raconteur, Granny. The suspense was built very slowly, the characters quite one-dimensional. The pace only started to pick up towards the end when Joe DiPunno, the manager, received a call – the call that ended Billy’s career, the one that made him the first and only player to have his existence completely removed from the record books.
King’s writing doesn’t disappoint, that’s for sure. However, this would probably be a better read if you were a fan of the sport, as you’d be able to appreciate the game and its lingo. If you need a quick read while waiting for a friend who’s famous for their tardiness, then this might do it. The book is short and ends with King’s signature sinister twist (maybe not sinister enough to some). Some of his fans said this is worth the read and to be kept with their King collection, but some were utterly disappointed.
As for me, I’m not sure how long this ‘awful’ story (not saying I’m a sadist who’d love one, but I was really expecting more from King) will last in my memory but it sure won’t be as memorable as Green Mile, or Carrie, or It.
My verdict? 3/5