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The Short Life of Hughie McLoon

A thoroughly American tragedy about dreaming big.
Genres: Biography & Memoir, Sports, True Crime

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220 pages 8 page photo insert



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“This could be a great work of fiction. The damndest thing is it’s all fact.”
–Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated

It was a time of Prohibition, jazz, and gangland murder, and it was baseball’s age of magic, when even Hall of Fame superstars believed that rubbing the hump of a hunchback guaranteed a hit.

Deformed for life a childhood fall from a seesaw, Hughie McLoon never grew taller than fifty inches, but destiny and snappy wit made him the most envied boy in Philadelphia — the batboy and mascot of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. Although the A’s finished last in each of the three seasons that they rubbed Hughie’s hump and he tended their bats, McLoon became a local celebrity. He loved the crowds and they loved him back.

Graduating from disabled mascot to professional boxing manager, and running his own speakeasy while serving as a secret agent for the city’s crime-busting director of Public Safety, Hughie was the toast of Philly until one August night in 1928 when he was caught in a midnight crossfire outside his tavern. Only twenty-six years old, McLoon bled to death on Cuthbert Street. The next day, 15,000 citizens lined up to see his four-foot corpse. The age of magic was over.

A century ago an American boy in a broken body lived a leprechaun’s life and died a gangster’s death. The Short Life of Hughie McLoon is Allen Abel’s haunting and stylish biography of the most remarkable and beloved of the baseball mascots — the history of an era that will never come again.

Allen Abel

Allen Abel’s work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Smithsonian, and the Globe & Mail. He has written, produced, and hosted broadcasts and documentaries for HBO, the Discovery Channel, and the CBC, earning an Emmy nomination. The Washington Post called his non-fiction book Flatbush Odyssey: A Journey Through the Heart of Brooklyn “one of the best travelogues about anywhere, ever.”

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