Brookylns Lose by William Heuman, 1953
The magic trick:
Capturing the baseball fan’s love-hate relationship with his hometown team
We’re getting ready for the start of a new baseball season with 10 straight days of baseball stories on the SSMT blog. Baseball isn’t my favorite sport these days, but it’s the best sport for short stories. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe we’ll find out during the next week or so.
So we start with a story that doesn’t put the reader in the dugout or on the field. “Brooklyns Lose” puts us in the all-too-familiar position of frustrated fan. But he nails it. Heuman details a few hours in the life of a Brooklyn father who has just taken his son to see the Dodgers play – a heartbreaking loss to the Cincinnati Reds (my hometown team) in the 1950s. The narration is from his perspective, allowing the reader to take in the full fan experience, from anger to optimism and all the rationalization that happens in between. And that’s quite a trick on Heuman’s part.
“They should have a man like Kluszewski on first base for Brooklyn,” Uncle Nathan says.
“What’s wrong with Hodges?” I ask him. “What’s wrong with a guy who hits over three hundred and drives in all them runs?”
“Eat your supper,” Madge says.
Who feels like eating, especially with Uncle Nathan sitting across from you, smirking? Uncle Nathan is a small, pot-bellied guy with a circle of fuzzy hair around his bald head. All his life he’s lived in Brooklyn, twenty minutes from the field, and never saw a game. That’s a citizen!