A baseball story? If this were any author I would not dream of picking it up. I have no cultural reference points for baseball, as an American wouldn't for a book on cricket. And £9.99 for an 80-page tale with no easy way just sounds wrong. Having Stephen King on the cover though changes everything. And fortunately he's not let me down.
The story sees "Granny", an old, retired and male baseball coach, telling an anecdotal story to King (reference in several places in the text but playing no active part) about a period removed from the baseball history books.
The Titans, a New Jersey baseball team of the 1950s, lose both their catchers in 48 hours and put a call out to the minors to get a replacement. What they get is Billy Blakely, a quiet kid who seems a little bit not quite there. But on the pitch he proves a revelation and quickly gains the nickname "Blockade".
For the most part it's told straight. There's none of the underlying monster-in-the-sewers weirdness you might expect from King. But there's still his subsurface edge. There's a twist coming right from the off - a hidden back-story to the kid, a reason he was expunged from the history books. And in some ways this obvious, "here-it-comes" plot lessens the story's impact. Still full of the great King prose though - very readable.
Padding out the volume (slightly) is bonus short story "Morality", a rather creepy little tale where a young nurse is offered $200,000 by her patient, a retired minister, to perform one, minor immoral act on his behalf. And you know that isn't going to end well. Fun, if lightweight by King's standard.
Page updated 18 July, 2010