If you are a Cubs fan, you’ll love this book. If you are a Mets fan, you’ll love this book. (Well, then again, maybe you won’t.) If you couldn’t care less about the Cubs, the Mets or baseball in general, you’ll love this book. That’s because it’s not really all about baseball; it’s about having the courage to make things right, to put a new spin on inevitability. But, in this case, making things right takes a lot more than courage.
It’s an act that requires persistence, keeping negative emotions in check and - oh yes - blackmail.
Paul Tracy’s father is dying. This coming event is not a tragedy to anybody, since Warren Tracy is an abusive husband and father, a friend to nobody and a man who carries a chip on his shoulder the size of Wrigley Field. Compared to Warren Tracy, even Ty Cobb comes across as kind. Nobody, in fact, really cares about the pain and imminent death of the guy. However, at the last moment, his son, Paul, decides that he will right a wrong deliberately committed by his father - a wrong that not only ended the career of a young man with great potential but also forever shamed the father in the eyes of the son.
Warren Tracy was a pitcher for the New York Mets. He was valuable mainly in his own mind, and, as he was overlooked year after year by those whose praise he coveted, he became more and more bitter. This negativity, combined with the fact that, according to his son, he was a “violent alcoholic” made life at the Tracy house (it was never a home) almost unendurable for his wife and two kids.
Running parallel to the story of the Tracy family is the evolution of a sports legend named Joe Castle, the pride and joy of Calico Rock, Arkansas, and the Cubs player known ever after as Calico Joe. Joe represents everything that is good about the sport of baseball - hard work, preparation, modesty when it is needed, gratitude. He has his flaws, but, unlike Warren Tracy, he is every baseball loving boy’s idea of a perfect role model. It is when Mr. Positive meets Mr. Negative that tragedy ensues, and it is what happens 30 years later that brings Joe and Warren together again.
To learn more about this and other books, visit the Boulder City Library at 701 Adams Boulevard, 293-1281, www.bouldercitylibrary.org