BLOCKADE BILLY, by Stephen King, Cemetery Dance Publications, Baltimore, 2010, 112 pages, hardcover, $25.
Soon after the first pitch of the 2010 Major League season (and the inevitable doubts about David Ortiz) comes the long-awaited baseball fiction from one of the most famous Boston Red Sox fans.
Bangor’s own Stephen King opted to have this novella published by the small horror publisher Cemetery Dance, which had previously released two volumes of King’s “The Secretary of Dreams” and a deluxe limited edition of “From a Buick 8.”
In “Blockade Billy” (due out April 20), King delves into that longtime baseball staple, the rookie phenom who comes out of nowhere (Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, anyone?).
An old coach tells the author the story of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely, a catcher for the New Jersey Titans for part of a memorable season in the late 1950s.
The Titans lost both of the catchers on their roster during spring training, and their call for help yields Iowa farmboy Blakely.
It’s quickly evident that young Blakely, simply, just ain’t right.
Still, fans will accept personality quirks from their athletes, especially if they perform. And Blakely does. He earns his nickname for his ability to keep opposing base-runners from scoring, and he’s no slouch at bat, either.
“Blockade Billy” becomes a fan favorite, and the Titans get off to a fast start. But things soon unravel both for Blakely and the team.
This novella is a baseball book with a twist only Stephen King could give it. It makes you wonder about all those other phenoms who disappear and are never heard from again.