John Grisham’s 2012 baseball novel, Calico Joe, could be on its way to the big screen, courtesy of George Clooney’s production company, Smokehouse Productions.
Clooney will reportedly direct the project and co-write the screenplay adaptation with production partner Grant Heslov. Adding to the star power behind the scenes is musician Bob Dylan, attached as a producer with his company, Grey Water Park Productions.
Calico Joe follows the story of Chicago Cubs phenom Joe Castle (from Calico Rock, Arkansas), whose sensational 1973 rookie season and baseball career are cut short when New York Mets veteran Warren Tracey hits him in the head with a pitch. Castle goes into a coma, eventually suffers a stroke, and is incapacitated for life.
Thirty years later, Tracey’s son — estranged from his father after ending Castle’s career — tries to arrange a meeting between the pitcher and hitter. Both men initially refuse to meet each other but after Tracey is diagnosed with cancer, he agrees to speak with Castle.
Grisham admitted in an interview with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King and Charlie Rose in 2012 that he hoped Calico Joe would be adapted into a movie. Eight years later, that appears to be happening.
The acclaimed author known for legal thrillers said his story was inspired by the true-life story of Ray Chapman, the only Major League Baseball player to have died after being hit by a pitch. Promoting the book, Grisham told NPR’s Scott Simon that he consulted Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa on the mindset and ethical dilemmas that coaches and players face in deciding whether or not to throw at a batter in retaliation.
As is often the case with a Grisham novel, the book debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. The film adaptation is in the very early stages of development but considering the themes of father-son relationships and redemption, expect it to be released around Father’s Day whenever it’s ready.