I was never a sports fan. I guess it has something to do with my rebellious nature. I grew up in Baltimore, in the 1960's. Everybody was Orioles Crazy. My family, my friends, the guys I schooled with. Me, I didn't get it. Why would I watch a bunch of guys chasing a ball around when I could be reading about John Carter of Mars, or Doc Savage? I could be reading a Heinlein or an Asimov book. Or maybe watching poor old Lon Chaney, Jr. in agony as he fought the Wolf Man curse.

Before anyone gets irate with me, I know that there are people that have done and continue to do both. Readers and lovers of imaginative movies who also have the sports bug. Probably anyone reading this who is a sports fan would fall under the category. But, believe me, none of the people I knew as a kid were readers. With my brother being the only exception I knew of.

Having said all of that, I always had a good time when I went to actually see The Orioles play. It's nearly impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of a live baseball game.

Blockade Billy is a new Stephen King book that is being published by Cemetery Dance Publications. When I heard that it was a novella that focuses on baseball, I was hesitant. Hesitant, yes, but not deterred. I saw enough games and used to play backyard ball as a kid. I understand the game and its rules. So I had no trouble reading and enjoying Blockade Billy.

King is in his grand storytelling tradition with Bockade Billy. No attempts at high literature here. It's a first person account of an old baseball man who is living out the remainder of his days in an old folks home. He tells the story of Blockade Billy to a Mr. King, who forwarded the story on to his readers in the form of this nifty little book.

William Blakely, who was to become known as Blockade Billy, is an odd young man who is hired on when a pro ball club needs a fill-in catcher. He's kind of skinny and more than a little bit odd. The team figures that Billy's tenure will be a short one, but they are surprised. Billy is likable, if more than a bit strange. And he has a hell of an aptitude for the game. His fearless stance against would-be home run scorers earns him the nickname, Blockade Billy.

We know from the start of the story that there is a scandal and a cover-up involving Billy. King takes his time in getting his readers to that point, using his considerable descriptive powers and longtime love of baseball to keep the story at a lively pace. Even me, an avowed non-fan of sports, enjoyed every page of the story.

And folks, when Mr. King demonstrates his revelation of the long-buried secret of Blockade Billy, it is with the gruesome relish that his readers have come to expect. But there is sadness at the core of this novella. Few readers will be unmoved by the story of poor Blockade Billy.

Blockade Billy is an ode to the game of baseball and it demonstrates how powerful that love can be. Even in someone who is considered insane by the rest of the world.

I'm thrilled that Cemetery Dance was able to spring this lovely little book on readers. Hell, I work for the company and I had no idea it was coming. It's a major coup for them and I'm so glad that they're making it available at a reasonable price so that everyone will have a chance to read this unique story. The first edition will have sold out by the time anyone reads this, but there will be more printings. Don't miss this one.

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