Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Danny Romero’s brief story of a boy playing in a summer softball league seems simple and straightforward. It is about a young Chicano who spends an uneventful summer playing softball on a Little League-type team. However, it is precisely this lack of significant events that defines the boy and his summer. In fact, it hardly seems a story at all, more like a realistic slice of life with little or no thematic importance. What gives the story its significance is just the feeling of insignificance that Michael feels.

Romero chooses the summer sport of softball—a variation of baseball—purposely, for baseball, more than any other sport, takes on almost mythic significance as the great American pastime. As such novels as Bernard Malamud’s The Natural (1952) and W. P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe Comes to Iowa (1983; adapted into the film Field of Dreams in 1984) demonstrate, there is a heroic potential, typically American, about the “boys of summer” that does not characterize football or basketball. The fact that a young Chicano wants to play the game so he can feel like “big stuff” is thus ironic, for it signifies the immigrant’s efforts to carve out an identity for himself by means of his adopted culture’s icons and conventions.

The ultimate failure of the game to provide a sense of importance and identity for Michael is emphasized throughout the story. It begins with his sister’s teasing him for being in the “tiny league” and yet...

(The entire section is 614 words.)