Even the most diehard baseball fans don’t know the true story of William “Blockade Billy” Blakely.
He may have been the greatest player the game has ever seen, but today no one remembers his name. He was the first — and only — player to have his existence completely removed from the record books. Even his team is long forgotten, barely a footnote in the game’s history.
Every effort was made to erase any evidence that William Blakely played professional baseball, and with good reason. Blockade Billy had a secret darker than any pill or injection that might cause a scandal in sports today. His secret was much, much worse…
“The game was played hard in those days, Mr.King, with plenty of fuck-you.”
I’ll be completely honest with you all: I know absolutely nothing about baseball and have never been a very big fan of watching sports. So then why would I read a novella about a topic I don’t care about? Blockade Billy was originally published as a standalone novella to go along with the 2010 MLB season and was later collected in the anthology The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which is how I ended up reading it.
It was difficult for me to understand all of the baseball jargon, as expected, and I was just bored out of my mind. It’s not that the writing was bad, in fact it was actually extraordinarily well written and that kept me reading to see where the story was going. I would imagine that a baseball fan would probably appreciate it. The narration gives an authentic 1950’s announcer feel, fast paced and loaded with action, which also makes this an interesting piece about the time period.
Sadly I just couldn’t get past the issue of my lack of baseball knowledge, making the story only lukewarm to me for a large part of it. When the plot really started to get rolling and I got an idea as to where it was going it got really interesting which brought my rating up. It had that touch of darkness that King always brings to his stories.
I wish I could have liked this more, I really do. If I was a baseball fan I probably would have loved this given the superb writing and historical references. For those that do have an appreciation for baseball, however, this novella is definitely worth checking out.
Strengths: Narration that feels authentic to the time period
Weaknesses: Difficult to follow for non baseball fans
Warnings: Violence, language