George Clooney to direct new baseball movie inspired by only MLB player killed in game


We're lucky that fictional Mets pitcher Warren Tracey doesn't exist in real life. He's terrible to his family, he's unremittingly boastful and he purposefully targets batters when he's on the mound. Say what you will about Joe Kelly and whether or not he's a "hero" for what he did to the Astros, but this Tracey fella is one bad egg.

So I'm obviously very excited to see who portrays him, as well as who plays title figure Joe Castle, in the new baseball movie "Calico Joe," directed by George Clooney with assistance from music legend Bob Dylan and based on a book of the same title by John Grisham.

“John has written a beautiful story and the chance to collaborate with Bob to bring it to the screen is just fantastic,” said Clooney and Grant Heslov in a joint statement (via Dave McNary of Variety).

The character arcs of both Castle and Tracey are extremely interesting to follow throughout the novel and soon-to-be film, both of which are completely thrown off course after Tracey nearly kills Castle — a fictionalized Chicago Cub — with a pitch, putting him into a coma and ending what was a very promising start to his young baseball career. The tale follows the two characters, as well as Tracey's son, at the two ends of a 30-year span.

Though it is indeed a fictional story, Grisham's narrative was inspired by the tragedy of Ray Chapman, a shortstop with the Cleveland Indians who was, by many accounts, "beloved for his infectious cheerfulness and enthusiasm" off the field, not to mention how good he was as an all-around player (via Don Jensen of SABR). Chapman was, and remains, the only baseball player killed by a pitch during a game, a horrific incident that occurred in 1920 when Yankees hurler Carl Mays hit him in the head. He died in the hospital fewer than 24 hours later.

A lesser-known tidbit about the infamous tragedy? Mays retook the mound just six days after killing an opposing hitter and threw a complete game shutout.

Grisham previously said in an interview that he wanted "Calico Joe" to be made into a film, and we're excited that his wish has finally come tru (h/t Ian Casselberry of Awful Announcing).