John Grisham uses a lot of words in his books, but there was one he couldn’t utter when his nephew, Ben Grisham, asked him to speak at the University of Memphis Tigers baseball banquet.
“How can you say ‘no’ to your nephew?” John said.
John was billed as the “World Famous Literary Slugger” and pictured as a spectacled turn-of-the-20th century baseball player on posters for the banquet — “John Grisham Goes to Bat for the Memphis Tigers.”
During the Friday night banquet at Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis, Ben, who is pitcher/outfielder for the Tigers, sat at the head table with his parents, Ken and Cheryl Grisham, brother Scott Grisham and sister-in-law Anna Katherine; uncle Mark and aunt Kellye Grisham; grandparents Wanda and John ‘Big John’ Grisham and uncle John.
Earlier at a reception, the novelist posed for numerous photos and chatted with guests.
“I use a lot of Memphis in my books — and I’m not done yet,” he told the crowd.
He reminisced with his Ole Miss law school professor, Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, who taught him “Legal Problems of the Elderly,” a course nicknamed “Geezer Law.”
During the banquet, John, who grew up in Southaven, said he and his family moved around a lot as a child.
They lived in Black Oak, Ark.; Delhi, La.; and Ripley, Miss., to name a few. The first thing they did when they moved to a new town was check out the library and the Little League baseball field.
Memphis, he said, “always felt like home. Memphis was always the big town.”
Whenever he’s homesick, he orders ribs from the Rendezvous, something he did during the recent Super Bowl.
John praised Tigers head coach Daron Schoenrock and urged guests to attend Tigers baseball games: “This team needs your support.”
Their first game of the season is at 3 p.m. today against Ole Miss in Oxford.
More than $100,000 was raised during the live auction, which included the chance to be a character name in John’s next book. Brad Martin bid $30,000 for a complete set of John’s autographed books.
John gave Ben a hug when Ben and Tigers co-captain Bill Moss presented him with a bat signed by the 2007 Tigers baseball team. Judy Gupton chaired the event, Jarvis Greer was emcee and John Roebuck was auctioneer.