I had never even heard of this Stephen King novella/short story published in 2010 until I saw it on the library shelf. The story is told by the third-base coach and one-game manager for the team, George “Granny” Grantham, who is now in a nursing home and is telling the tale to Stephen King. Blockade Billy aka William Blakely aka Eugene Katsanis is the star relief catcher for the New Jersey Titans. Billy comes from the Davenport Cornhuskers to catch for the team. He does a great job catching against “Danny Doo” Dusen and in hitting the balls and does what he is told. Danny Doo befriends the young player and indoctrinates him into the ways of the world.
Everyone agrees that Billy is a little strange, a little off, but they believe that he is just slow-witted. Granny notices the oddity that Billy often wears a band-aid below the middle knuckle of the second finger on his right hand. In true Stephen King fashion, this is a significant part of the story.
Then, there is “the” game, the only one that Granny manages. There is a bad call and the crowd yells “Kill the Ump!” So does Danny Doo. As this is a Stephen King story, I won’t give away the ending but you can probably guess. Billy is not who he claims to be and the umpire dies in a gruesome way.
The story was just ok to me. It was definitely suspenseful and the twist about the band-aid was very clever. I like baseball but this was a little too much baseball for me. If you’re a “number one fan” of Stephen King, you should probably read it but it’s definitely not a “must read.”
There was another short story at the end of the Blockade Billy book, entitled “Morality.” In this tale, Chad and Nora are in a financial crisis and can barely afford their bills. Chad is a substitute teacher and part-time writer and Nora is a home-care nurse for retired Reverend Winston. They are hopeful that the book will sell well when finished but Chad is having a hard time writing. Nora is given an offer by her boss to commit a sin for him for $200,000. After much hemming and hawing, they decide to do it. Without giving away the crime, the couple changes after the event, and not for the better.
The story is typically disturbing. I can’t say I really liked it either but it definitely makes you think.