Saturday 10 March 2018



Right around the turn of the century, Otto Penzler invited me to write a story with a baseball theme for an anthology, MURDERER'S ROW. I agreed, wrote a story which I called ALMOST PERFECT, and did as I always did—sent it first to Alice K. Turner, fiction editor at Playboy. If she passed on it, I intended to send it to Otto...but Alice crossed me up by buying it, and so I had to pass the news (good for me, bad for him) to Otto.

"Oh," he said. "Well, can you write another baseball story for me?" I replied that I'd love to, but I really didn't have a viable idea for one. Long pause. "Well, that's never stopped you in the past."

And a day later I had an idea, and some days after that I sent in KELLER'S DESIGNATED HITTER, which appeared in due course in MURDERER'S ROW and was later subsumed into HIT PARADE, third of the Keller episodic novels.

This is its first publication as an eStory for Kindle. I've always liked it, and I'm grateful to the two people to whom it owes its existence: to the late and much-missed Alice Turner, who snatched ALMOST PERFECT off the table, and to Otto Penzler, who's always known better than to take no for an answer.

Keller’s Designated Hitter sees the return of my favourite hitman in the seventh of ten individually released episodes.

I do like a sporting theme as a backdrop to a bit of criminal enterprise, though I doubt baseball would be my first pick as a scenario. I understand the gist of the game and the object of the exercise, but the subtleties and nuances escape me………inside pitches, walk him intentionally, a .320 hitter to get at a .280 hitter……..all went straight over my head.

What I did get was a feel for the event and the worldwide camaraderie that seems to exist at sporting occasions where complete strangers strike up conversations during the event, only to part and very likely never see each other again.

Keller’s contract is on a baseball player and said baseball player is approaching several milestones in a hitter’s career – 400 home runs and 3000 hits. Does Keller get impatient to get the job done or does he kick back take in a few ball games and let the man reach his milestones before doing the deed.

Mr Block delivers again.

4 from 5

Read in February, 2018
Published - 2001
Page count - 33
Source - Kindle Unlimited
Format - Kindle


  1. Block's the sort of storyteller, I think, who can draw the reader into any sort of context, even one that the reader isn't as familiar with. Glad you enjoyed this one, Col.

    1. Margot, I did enjoy it, but it's not my favourite backdrop for a story.

  2. Love Keller (thanks to you) but never too sure about baseball... We'll see.

    1. Got to be honest, baseball in crime ficrion isn't a big draw for me, but.....