Bill Krieger's Reviews > Calico Joe

Calico Joe by John Grisham
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

Don Kessinger was my favorite ballplayer growing up. Kessinger was the light-hitting, silky smooth-fielding shortstop for the Chicago Cub in the late 60's and early 70's. I was a leftie, so I "made" my Dad get a Don Kessinger glove that he used when we played catch. Kessinger was an NL All-star for many years. His signature move at short was sort of like Derek Jeter's: sprint into the hole, backhand, rise up, twirl and throw the runner out at first. The difference: Kessinger's move had a little more grace and way less power than Jeter.

There aren't any Don Kessingers in baseball any more. He couldn't hit for a lick. He didn't run real fast. He was just a steady guy who was an outstanding fielder. The era of punch-and-judy shortstops who can only field is definitely over.

Here are a couple great Kessinger links:

+ Baseball reference has all the Kessinger stats you need:

+ And this guy ranks Kessinger as the 67th best Cub of all-time:

I don't recall ever meeting Don Kessinger. Not even to just get an autograph. He is supposed to be a super nice guy. John Grisham has met Don Kessinger many times, it seems. They both live in Oxford, Mississippi, and Don Kessinger makes a couple of cameo appearances in Grisham's baseball tale Calico Joe.

Calico Joe is about a rookie phenom who joins the Cub in 1973. The book's narrator follows Joe's meteoric rise and fall because his lout-of-a-father pitches for the Mets at the time. Calico Joe interacts with Don Kessinger a few times when he joins the Cub.

Ya know. This is a novella. Or maybe a kid's book, I think. It's very short. The plot is a straight line. The characters are 2-D: good or bad. There's an element of complexity lacking that you usually find in a novel. I don't know.

I scratched my head a bit and then looked for a couple of other reviews. I found two right next to each other on google: WaPo and Wa Times. I told myself, "Good. Leftie and rightie takes on this book." Both reviews were glowing. There was no mention of the lack of substance or complexity in the book at all. Hrmph.

Well, I pawned the book off on Ty. I think he may give it 3 stars.
yow, bill
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02/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Mark I agree wholeheartedly. I gave it 3 stars but wanted to give it 2 and 1/2. My comments were identical: novella and kids' book.

Bill Krieger Mark wrote: "I agree wholeheartedly. I gave it 3 stars but wanted to give it 2 and 1/2. My comments were identical: novella and kids' book."

Hey Mark,
Confirmation: my 13 yo son just finished Calico Joe and loved it.
Thanks, Bill

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