The Short Life of Hughie McLoon
A True Story of Baseball, Magic and Murder
by Allen Abel
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 09 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 16 Mar 2021
It was a time of Prohibition, jazz, and gangland murder, and it was baseball’s age of magic, when even Hall of Fame players believed that rubbing the hump of a hunchback guaranteed a hit.
Broken and deformed by a childhood fall from a seesaw, Hughie McLoon never grew taller than forty-nine inches but he made himself one of the lucky ones. He was chosen as the batboy and mascot of the Philadelphia Athletics. Although the team finished last in each of the three seasons that the A’s rubbed his hump and Hughie tended their bats, he became a local celebrity. He loved the crowds and they loved him back.
Graduating from batboy to boxing manager, and running his own speakeasy while serving as a secret agent for the Chief of Police, Hughie was the toast of Philly until one summer night in 1928 he was caught in a murderous crossfire outside his tavern. Twenty-six years old, he bled to death on Cuthbert Street. The next day, 15,000 admirers lined up to see his four-foot corpse. The age of magic was over.
The Short Life of Hughie McLoon is Allen Abel’s haunting and stylish biography of the most remarkable and beloved of the baseball mascots, and a new chapter in the complicated mythology of the American dream.
A Note From the Publisher
“Abel serves up a frothy concoction of baseball and boxing, magic and moonshine, true crime and high times about an all-American hunchback from Philadelphia with the extraordinary name of Hughie McLoon. This could be a great work of fiction. The damndest thing is it’s all fact.”
– MICHAEL FARBER, TSN and Sports Illustrated
“Channeling Ring Lardner, Allen Abel tells at breakneck speed the true story of a diminutive, hunchbacked boy from Prohibition-era Philadelphia...Abel’s narration never errs on the side of the straight and narrow, introducing stories of Babe Ruth, Billy Sunday, Jack Dempsey, and even Bertrand Russell, among many other colorful characters of the day.”
– ROBERT WILSON, author of Barnum: An American Life
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