Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Calico Joe” as Want to Read:
Calico Joe
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Calico Joe

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  35,442 ratings  ·  4,114 reviews
A surprising and moving novel of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption, set in the world of Major League Baseball…
Whatever happened to Calico Joe?
     It began quietly enough with a pulled hamstring. The first baseman for the Cubs AAA affiliate in Wichita went down as he rounded third and headed for home. The next day, Jim Hickman, the first baseman for the Cubs,
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Doubleday (first published 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Calico Joe, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Brett Richardson Great Book!! I dislike reading very mud but I found this book to be quite enjoyable. If you like baseball then you'll like this book!

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, fiction, cubs
The blurb on the front of the book reads the great American storyteller meets our national pastime. I remember when Calico Joe came out. The Cubs were in the midst of another losing season and the radio announcers had John Grisham in their booth to discuss his new baseball book. I did not get around to reading it until now, and of course I finished in 3 hours, as it's the time of year where I binge on baseball books.
Paul Tracey receives a phone call from his father's current wife that his fathe
Jay Connor
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The greatest triumph in today’s popular fiction could be the equal success John Grisham gets from his deepest hatred and his richest love.

Most know that Grisham the author of a number of good and best-selling legal thrillers hates the law. Or more precisely hates the act of lawyering. Fewer probably know that Grisham loves baseball. He coaches his son’s teams and gives mightily to building fields of dreams in both Virginia and, his native, Mississippi.

With “Calico Joe,” Grisham tells a wonderfu
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

John Grisham, obviously, is a very accomplished writer of tense legal thrillers, all of which are best sellers. Every once in a while, he strays from that genre and writes simply fantastic day-in-the-life type books of which I can't get enough. This is one of those books, and fits right along with "Playing for Pizza" and "A Painted House". Those two books weren't well received, but for some reason, I like those a whole lot more than the legal thrillers. There's something about how he c
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fan of baseball? Not a fan of baseball? Doesnt' matter-this book is a must read! This is so much more than a book about baseball. It's about family, heartache, broken promises, disappointments, growing up...mostly forgiveness and resiliance. You ache for Paul Tracey, his sister and Mom. You are so so disappointed in his father, MLB pitcher, Warren Tracey. He is far from a role model; even farther from father of the year. How could this emotionally charged story have a positive ending-what's the ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Calico Joe

John Grisham

CALICO JOE is not like any other John Grisham book I have ever read. It is a story about fathers and sons and forgiveness and letting go of events in the past. My husband is a life long Cubs fan and I pulled him right in with the story of Calico Joe. Paul Tracey gets a call from his father's current wife. His father Warren is dying. He was an okay pitcher for the New York Mets back when Calico Joe was playing for the Cubs. He was a horrible father and was very abusive to hi
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
If you are a baseball fan, this is a great read. It's a small book so doesn't take very long.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
John Grisham has hit this one out of the park. It isn't masquerading as rocket science; it is simply a tender tale of baseball, told with all the glory, and even the horror, that sometimes may accompany the game.

It is hard to know, at first, if this book is for adults or young adults, especially because of the cover which appears a bit juvenile, but perhaps it is for both, even though the subject matter may get dicey, with the inclusion of a dying parent who has also been physically abusive and
Michael Slavin
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sports, fiction
I read Playing for Pizza by Grisham. It was a story of a failing football player going to Italy to play in the league. That was a very good book anyone would enjoy, even a non-football fan. But Calico Joe just has too much baseball talk and too many players names for the average reader. I know baseball and I was a little bored through 4-5 chapters.

It was not a long book, so I stayed with it. I am glad I did. The story is much more about a father-son relationship, and how the father (not a good g
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I feel like I should preface this review by saying that I don't like baseball, in fact I think I would rather watch paint dry, it is just as exciting. So it was with great trepidation that I picked up this book and how very surprised by how much I loved this book by the end. The book isn't really about baseball, it just happens to be the catalyst for many of the actions in the book.

I really liked the dual time periods in the book, the start of Calico Joe's red hot career, his down to earth attit
Apr 27, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this story and would have marked it higher if only there was less details on baseball. Maybe it would have worked better for me if it was based around a sport I am more familiar with. On the positive side there were some excellent characters and the plot was solid but a little simple. Another John Grisham novel that is a change from the court room classics he is more known for.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Calico Joe is a pleasant parable on the vicissitudes of life in professional sport, where one decision made in the heat of the moment can destroy a promising career, and also on the holding of life-long grudges, forgiveness and redemption.
I've long been a fan of Grisham's courtroom and legal novels, and although this is a stark departure from that genre, I enjoyed the book very much.
The author handles Calico Joe with compassion and a distinct lack of hyperbole.
Centered around a baseball player
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A MUST READ for all baseball fans!!! Brings back memories from your own favorite teams---- Cincinnitti pitcher hitting Cardinal's Pujols on his broken wrist last year---remembrance for me. We all love our teams and players!! I happened to finish this book on Friday, April13, when the Cubs beat my Cardinals 8-5, when one of our great pitchers, Wainright, pitched on comeback from Tommy John's surgery. I so wanted him to do great! So, we all have our great memories!!

Hitting on the head-----terrible
Jul 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-enjoy
The place where this book failed was at the beginning.

Grisham, a gifted writer of course, made a choice to write in the point of view of a boy whose father is a baseball player, and has since grown up. Much of the book is this man looking back about events and decisions that happened around his father -- especially one event inside baseball.

The problem with choosing this point of view is that everything the boy saw and remembered later was from the outside -- from the stands, from far away. I al
May 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-reviewed
This was a pleasant read; I like baseball, so that made it easy. It wasn't a page-turner in classic Grisham sense, but I read through it pretty quickly anyway. I wasn't on the edge of my seat, which is why the word "pleasant" came to mind - just pleasurable reading. Despite the potential for sentimentalism there really wasn't anyway; it was almost as if the son was disinterested in the whole thing, not as in, not interested, but removed from being concerned about the consequences. Just thought t ...more
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Book read for Book Discussion group

I loved this story! This is, at heart, a story of fathers and sons. Although the father in this story was a pitcher for the Mets, he wasn't the made for TV professional player; he made terrible decisions at home and on the field. His son, Paul, discovers that his father is dying of cancer. He doesn't want to try to mend fences between them, it's far too late for that, but he would like his father to apologize to Calico Joe. His father intentionally threw a pitc
Jessie Frederick
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans
Shelves: 2016
I like to assign the tag "24 hour read" to books that only take me a day to get through. Calico Joe falls into that bunch, but in reality it only took me about 18 hours with a night of sleep thrown into the mix. You do the math. A quick book that, overall, kept me interested and engaged.

I guess I'll start with the reasons this book earned 4 stars. I like the story. I like looking into the father/son relationship, especially when it's rocky and tumultuous. Unfortunately, I can very much relate, s
Jane Stewart
It’s not my kind of book because it was sad and depressing. But it was well done if you like this genre.

Most of the book has me thinking about the terrible tragedy (view spoiler) But it didn't feel good to me. It felt too-little-too-late. There
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short book (only 4 1/2 hours of listening) packs a punch on many levels. It alternates between the summer of 1973 and present time and is a story about baseball fans and players, fathers and sons, redemption and forgiveness.

Paul Tracy, the son of a Mets pitcher, tells the story from the vantage point of his 12-year-old self and from his 40-ish married father-of-two self. Calico Joe Castle, a phenom of the 1973 Cubs team, is called up from the minors and starts his career with 12 hits in 12
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
For years, superstar author John Grisham has wanted to write a novel about baseball. Unfortunately, the story just never came to him. Then, a couple of years ago, Grisham read a story about Ray Chapman, a baseball player who was killed by getting hit with a fast pitch. There was much speculation about whether the player was “beaned” intentionally. Grisham thought this would make an excellent basis for a story, and so we have his latest novel, Calico Joe.

I was sent an advance review copy by the p
David Walsh
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
If your write 24 novels and have a number of them made into movies, your reputation is already set. You don’t have to beg publishers to read your latest work, to take a chance and publish it, to fund your book tour.

So John Grisham gets a pass for a thin book like Calico Joe. The story has been written many times: rookie rises to the major leagues as part of a losing team, goes on a tear at the plate, breaks a few records, the team lands in first place, crowds come to see him at home and away. Na
Nurse Lisa In Ohio (PRN Book Reviews)
Yes, I am a big baseball fan (GO REDS!)...However, even if one knows ZERO about ANY sport, this is a really good story. I finished it in just a few hours but will think about it for a long time.

I like when Mr. Grisham veers off his typical (very enjoyable) legal thriller path and gives us something different (i.e. "playing for pizza"-I think).

Bottom line: I wish we could give half stars as I feel this novel would be a solid 4.5. I am very frugal with my "fives" and am again in this instance as I
Wanda Hartzenberg
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
What a truly amazing book. I listened to this on Audio and I know already I will listen to it again. And again.
Now. You need to understand something. I am about as interested in sports as I am in watching my grass grow.
But a few years back I read a book by an author who convinced me that I should not close down this genre as a matter of course. And thus I gave this book a try and I am totally delighted that I did.
Like most books in this genre in my limited experience sport is a subplot. This
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
A great Grisham tale that takes us outside the law firms and onto the fields of America's pasttime. Grisham delivers an excellent branch off and great read for this short novella, as he examines the game of baseball and the issues that plague one family surrounding it.

Dealing in two timelines; 1973 when a rookie amazes the baseball world, and the present day when the son of a former great (and fan back in 1973) is dealing with events back in 1973, the book seeks to bring as closure that has been
James Adams
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Just finished Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, was still in a baseball mood, saw this and picked it up.
This is a strong baseball novel, folksy and filled with love of the game. The prose is solid, the story sentimental without becoming treacly, and the characters believable. I loved the baseball-centric flashbacks, but only liked the more bitter modern sections. Still, a darn good read, highly recommended to fans of the game.
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, baseball
As a serious Baseball fan, I really enjoyed this book. Great summer "fast" read!

Tim Chavel
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My wife knows how much I enjoy reading Grisham so when she saw this book on sale at Target she bought it. It is a very easy read but an excellent read. Calico Joe is a rookie playing for the Chicago Cubs. He is setting all kinds of records and is on pace to be the all time rookie ever until his career is cut short when a pitcher throws and hits him in the head. The son of the pitcher years later when his father is dying sets off to meet Joe and try to sit up a meeting between the two. Grisham we ...more
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The author is a pretty big baseball fan and it shows in this story, part coming of age and part reconciliation. Told in two eras, this is the story of a rookie hitter and a veteran pitcher in 1973 coupled with the story of an aging, distant and difficult father and his son.

I found the baseball credible (though the rookie accomplishments cross the line to in-credible) and the story believable. Both the characters and small town America are well fleshed out. This is the first John Grisham novel I
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been meaning to read this for a long time. I haven't picked up anything by John Grisham in a long time, but this was a winner. A lot of baseball and some really thought-provoking situations and conversations. I really enjoyed it and only wish it was a little longer.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Warren Tracey plays baseball for Mets
Using his old and arrogant methods

Joe Castle is the rising star of Cubs Baseball team
Becoming like him becomes Paul Tracey's dream

Paul is brought up breathing Baseball
But something makes him leave it once and for all

At Read John Grisham after an year
Nice read with a message so clear

Whatever bad happens in the past
Remembering it, will make it forever last

Unless the Forgiver and Forgiven forget
Their families would always be upset early age of 12 or so
He knows t
Andrew May
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars. I really like the good and innocent (Joe) versus the bad and malicious (Warren) told through the eyes of a 11 year old boy obsessed with baseball. Paul is torn between his hero worship of the protagonist and the shame of being the son of the antagonist. Very interesting story and well told. I really liked how he weaved the story through different times in Paul’s life and managed to cover some good ground on forgiveness and restitution. As a baseball fanatic, the descriptions of the ga ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Any good? 27 166 Aug 05, 2017 10:45AM  
Which current players would you cast as Warren Tracey and Joe Castle? 12 82 Oct 27, 2013 10:56AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Calico Joe 1 3 Jul 26, 2012 09:35AM  
  • Bang the Drum Slowly
  • Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game
  • The Entitled: A Tale of Modern Baseball
  • One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season
  • Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig
  • Imperfect: An Improbable Life
  • Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back
  • One Last Strike
  • Out of My League: A Rookie's Survival in the Bigs
  • Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever
  • The Yankee Years
  • Murder At Ebbets Field
  • Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball
  • Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero
  • Francona: The Red Sox Years
  • The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood
  • Pete Rose: An American Dilemma
  • The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America's Pastime
"Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of
“After a leisurely slide into second, Joe bounced to his feet, looked at Marichal, shrugged, smiled, and spread his arms as if to say, "You throw at me, I'll make you pay.” 2 likes
“were in town. At dawn, NBC, along with the rest of the baseball world, awakened to the irresistible story of Joe Castle and his stunning debut in Philadelphia. Suddenly the biggest game of the day was” 0 likes
More quotes…