SI Vault
William Heuman
September 20, 1954
Often a writer can do in fiction what he cannot do with facts, just as a painter can catch essences and meanings and emotions that may elude the finest camera. This short story?the first to be published in SI ?might be called a "baseball story," but it is really about the community of people. Brooklyn is Brooklyn, and yet it might be any baseball town after the home team has blown a lead in the ninth.
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September 20, 1954

Brooklyns Lose

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"Well, it was good, Pop. Way out toward center field."

A home run in the last inning which wins the ball game and sends the Brooklyns down to defeat is never a good home run. What the kid means is that it was well hit. I admit that. I'm a Brooklyn fan, but I admit that. The ball travels maybe four hundred feet before it clears the fence in right center, so it's a good hit. All right, but don't rub it in. Three and a half hours I sit there in the bleachers on a hot day and we lose anyway. So what's good about it?

A guy on the trolley says to me, "They shoulda passed him, that Kluszewski."

"Alston didn't wanna put the winning run on base," I tell him. "That's baseball. You play the averages."

"He didn't put Kluszewski on, neither," this guy says, grinning. "Klu hit it an' kept goin'."

This guy jokes, yet. This is a time for jokes when you have a ball game sewed up eight-to-seven in the ninth, and you lose it with a home-run ball.

I look out the window, and the guy says, "So tomorrow's another day."

I don't even look at him. That kind of guy I don't look at.

You don't mind losing a ball game now and then, but when you lose to Cincinnati it hurts, especially when you got it sewed up, and especially in September and you're way out of first place and that old lost column can murder you.

The kid's getting wise here. He's eleven now, and I've had him down to a lot of ball games, and he argues baseball with the other kids on the block.

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