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Blockade Billy

Blockade Billy

3.5 425
by Stephen King, Mare Winningham (Read by), Craig Wasson (Read by)

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From New York Times bestselling author Stephen King comes the haunting story of Blockade Billy, the greatest Major League baseball player to be erased from the game.

Even the most die-hard 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


From New York Times bestselling author Stephen King comes the haunting story of Blockade Billy, the greatest Major League baseball player to be erased from the game.

Even the most die-hard 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... and only Stephen King, the most gifted storyteller of our age, can reveal the truth to the world, once and for all.

Originally published through Cemetery Dance Publications on April 20, 2010 as a $25.00 limited-edition hardcover, Stephen King and Cemetery Dance have made an arrangement with Scribner to make available a less expensive hardcover edition of Blockade Billy, with an on-sale date of May 25th, the same date the audiobook goes on sale. The Scribner edition will be available in all U.S. and Canadian retail outlets. Both the Scribner book and the Simon & Schuster audiobook will feature a bonus short story ("Morality").

Editorial Reviews

Bill Sheehan
Blockade Billy works as well as it does for a couple of reasons. The first is the narrative voice that King has conjured up for Granny Grantham. Funny, sharply observant and casually profane, it is the voice of a quintessential baseball insider who happens to be a natural raconteur. Equally important is the lovingly detailed evocation of the game as it was played in 1957, when, with few exceptions, the players were neither celebrities nor millionaires but "working stiffs" who earned, on average, $15,000 a year. King's descriptions of these tough, hard-bitten men and the hardscrabble contests they engaged in add both a dash of nostalgia and a touch of gritty reality to this dark, absorbing portrait of a vanished era.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
A quirky baseball player with a past shrouded in secrecy is the tragic hero of this macabre tale from the dark side of the all-American sport. In the voice of George “Granny” Grantham, retired third-base coach of the New Jersey Titans, King (Under the Dome) recalls the spring of 1957, when Billy Blakely, a catcher called up from the Titans' Iowa farm system, helped to boost the team out of the basement and add some excitement to the national pastime. Billy hits with such power and guards the plate with such determination (hence his eponymous nickname) that teammates are willing to forgive such eccentricities as his frequently addressing himself in the third person, or bloodying runners who collide with him. Of course, these kinks are clues to a shocking pathology that King coaxes out in a narrative steeped so perfectly in the argot of the game and the behavior of its players and fans that readers will willingly suspend their disbelief. As King's fiction goes, this suspenseful short is a deftly executed suicide squeeze, with sharp spikes hoisted high and aimed at the jugular on the slide home. (May)
Library Journal
King, a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, takes a break from the supernatural with this highly entertaining novella. Things are not going well for the Newark Titans in 1957, until they turn in desperation to minor league catcher Billy Blakely, who proves to be both an excellent fielder and a timely hitter. This being a King tale, the Titans' success is not without some unexpected turns. In the tradition of Robert Coover's The Universal Baseball Association and Jerome Charyn's The Seventh Babe, Blockade Billy is infused with colorful details of the game. Actor Craig Wasson sounds delightfully grumpy as the Titans' avuncular third-base coach, comically raising his voice to convey displeasure with the post-1957 world. All fans of King's, baseball, and perfectly performed audiobooks will be delighted. [Includes the bonus story "Morality," read by Mare Winningham; the Scribner hc was described as a "read-at-one-gulp tale," LJ Xpress Reviews, 4/30/10.—Ed.]—Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 2 CDs
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.92(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy—Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel), Finders Keepers, and End of Watch; the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams; Revival; Doctor Sleep; and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic series, The Dark Tower, is the basis for a major motion picture from Sony. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Mare Winningham has appeared in more than fifty film and television projects, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Georgia and Emmy Awards for the telefilms George Wallace and Amber Waves. She is also an accomplished singer-songwriter.

Brief Biography

Bangor, Maine
Date of Birth:
September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:
Portland, Maine
B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

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Blockade Billy 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 425 reviews.
GailPFL More than 1 year ago
Stephen King is hearing the eyewitness account of the amazing, but short-lived baseball career of rookie, William "Blockade Billy" Blakely, as you simultaneously overhear the conversation. The gruff baseball lingo of the New Jersey Titan's third base coach, George Grantham, or "Granny", takes you to the games and relates the highlights of the innings that bear telling. To anyone who has ever seen a softball or baseball team in play, courtesy of Mr. King's storytelling ability, the action unfolds and comes alive compelling you to turn the pages. You know all along that something is not quite right with Blakely, or King would not be interested in his tale of celebrity or why the record of his stats no longer exist, but you need to complete this consuming and sometimes melancholy novella to get the answers. This is an easy read, but one should take in this tale slowly so as to capture and visualize the full effect.
jcNC More than 1 year ago
A good story - my bad for not looking at size of file to determine it was a short story and not a book - certainly not worth $7.99.
NJMetal More than 1 year ago
Blockade Billy is too long to be a short story and too short to be a novella. Blockade Billy also lacked that Stephen King sorta punch I kept waiting to feel the whole story through. Surprisingly it lacks a supernatural element. That being said, it IS the story of a short lived and mostly forgotten baseball ledgend of yore as told by the third basecoach of his ficticious major league baseball team. The story itself is entertaining and fast paced. My only real problem with Blockade Billy was it's lack of a supernatural edge. I felt that it made the ending unecessarily disappointing. The plot, characters and feel did have a very 'Green Mile'esque tone about it. Albeit without the depth of the 'Green Mile'. A nice little baseball read if you can grab it at the right price.
seeGreen More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I am biased towards Stephen Kings writings. I enjoy almost everything he writes and to me, much of it is superb. This short story, a very short story is intriguing. It gives a feel to the old days of baseball, with grittiness and grayness that one doesn't find today with all the finesse and flamboyancy. That alone helps make this story worth reading for it gives a true in-your-face look at what could have been the day to day of a major league team. The character of Blockade Billy and his interactions with the narrator, the Newark Titan's third base coach and the pitching ace who threw everyone under the bus except this young Iowa catcher whom he took under his wing, is incredible considering the short number of pages that the events develop in. There doesn't seem to be one extraneous word, nor one to few. Short, simply told, and beautiful imagery, which at the same time is gristly, the story of this young baseball prodigy and mentally unbalanced man is not so much thriller as a fictional true crime story with the reader knowing that something is coming and almost able to guess it. The plot doesn't really have any surprises but just a 'huh, so that's what he did' feel to it. Recommended to anyone who likes, King's work, baseball, mystery, or true crime. Can be read in an hour or so.
Italianice2k8 More than 1 year ago
Its not that I didn't like the book, its just that I cannot believe I spent $7.59 on a book that took me almost no time at all to finish reading... I didn't even look at the file size when I bought the book because King's books are usually long and in dept. This was the exact opposite. This should've been part of a collection, not its own book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the year Russia sent a satellite into orbit, New Jersey had a professional baseball team the Titans. Just before opening day, the Devil's catcher Johnny Goodkind was drunk and ran over a woman. He tried to run but was caught, which ended his sports career. His replacement Frank Faraday suffered a career ending injury during a game. The team calls up from the Minors Davenport Cornholers William Blakely who proves to be a first class player. He befriends pitcher Danny Dusen who is closing in on two hundred wins. "Blockade Billy" wants him to achieve the milestone. The crowd loves Billy, but one of the management workers who deals with the players begins to notice odd phenomena involving the catcher. Billy sometimes has a band-aid on his second finger's middle knuckle and that means trouble. Billy exactly parrots what Danny says even when he was not there to hear the words. By the time his team figures out what makes Billy tick, they erase his name from the baseball archives; the Titans since have become a historical footnote while the game's greatest play simply vanished as the season for the Titans does not count. This short novel will please Stephen King's readers especially those who cherish baseball stories. The story line feels somewhat like throwback to when baseball was the National Pastime just a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier. Well written and entertaining although the short format never allows the audience to get close to Billy or his teammates, fans will sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, King style. Harriet Klausner
BillCA More than 1 year ago
This is a Steven King book that I did not enjoy. Weak plot and character development.
HobbyReader1 More than 1 year ago
I am a big King fan, but when I bought this book thinking it was good(like most King books), but I was wrong. The concept of the book was great but the way it was carried out at the end was predictable from the get go. I was hoping there would be a twist a the end. I found myself thinking I could even make an ending like that. After the short story I read Morality, which I thought was a cool short read that seemed more like King. The only problem with this book is that its too expensive for only 130 pages that I finished in an hour or two. It really should be in a book of short stories that King does like Just After Sunset.
rothgar More than 1 year ago
Blockade Billy was a surprise with suspense as to who Billy really is. Rothgar
TenoreGC More than 1 year ago
It's an OK read, but not something I would ever suggest to somebody to get them interested in reading Stephen King.
rjb63 More than 1 year ago
Like most of Mr. Kings stories the character development is excellent. What can I say Mr. King just has a way with words and is a great story teller. Worth reading!
TravelinT More than 1 year ago
and whoever said it could be confusing to someone not well versed in baseball it could be confusing,you are right,but still I enjoyed it. ( ;
Annibebe More than 1 year ago
Stephen King - simple and pure! Loved it.
Greenfritos More than 1 year ago
First, let me say I enjoyed this short novella by King, it would make a great afternoon read while you sit by the pool, beach, or in the park. It was entertaining. But having read much of King's stories, the plot was almost predictable. I was pulled in to the story with the arrival of Billy, he's a likable character from the start. Simple, humble, hard working, with a little bit of mischief rolled in there. The story kept me interested up to the end. It was almost like King wanted to keep it at a certain length, and ended it quickly without much punch. I wanted something more sinister, or maybe "other worldly". I understand this was meant to be a limited edition hardback for collectors, then it was released to a broader audience. I can see it as a great addition to a King collector's book case as a limited edition, maybe it should have stayed that way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shortest novel ever written. I was upset at paying for this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brockade Billy may be a good short story but it should be in Stephen King's next short story collection coming out this fall. I know Mr King is a huge baseball fan and he had it released it at the beginning baseball season. A more appropiate release is it to be paperback and given free at every opening day this year.
JKtypist More than 1 year ago
While I am a fan of Stephen King and often defend him among my circles of fellow readers, this book appears to be not much more than a money grab. Spanning just 80 small pages, the short story is interesting enough to read but not worth the price of the hardback book. Could have fit nicely into a collection of shorts like After Sunset, but as a stand alone it doesn't have the legs. However, the Pixar-esque standalone short, Morality, which first appeared in 2009 in Esquire magazine is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's masterpiece, The Lottery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First King book I ever read. He did not make me a fan from reading this book.
BostonProWriter More than 1 year ago
The narrator of "Blockade Billy" is a crusty old former baseball man who recounts the story of an odd but immensely talented young catcher whose numbers had been permanently erased from the books. But why? You'll need to read this haunting novella for that answer. Stephen King has penned a winner here in this all-to-brief, nostalgic look at baseball before scandals, drugs and free agency changed the game forever. The first-person writing style most closely resembles King's earlier work, "Dolores Claibourne."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story for fans of Mr. King (or rather Mr. Bachman), baseball and the novel Blaze.
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