(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The hero of the slightly surreal “The Hector Quesadilla Story” is a typical Boyle antihero. Although the story is in the tradition of mythic tales of Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, Hector Quesadilla, in his fifties, is no Sultan of Swat—he has shin splints, corns, and hemorrhoids. He is not only old, but he is also fat, a man who eats as though there were some creature inside him made of nothing but jaws and guts. He has not played regularly in ten years, but he wants one more season; he refuses to admit that he is old. In baseball, Hector believes, the grass is always green and the lights are always shining, for it is a game that never ends.

The story focuses on one particular day late in the season; it is Hector’s birthday, and there is a home game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. His entire family attends—his wife, his grandchildren, even his son, Hector, Jr., who studies English at USC and is writing a thesis on a mystical British poet, of whom Hector has never heard. Hector’s own mystic adventure begins when the game is tied up at 5 to 5 at the bottom of the ninth inning and seems headed for extra innings. As the game goes into its twenty-second inning, Hector begins to feel, with a sense of wonder, that he is destined to be the hero of the longest game in history.

The story moves toward its transcendent climax at the top of the thirty-first inning, when finally Hector is sent up to bat and thus, it is hoped, to bring the game...

(The entire section is 489 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

“The Hector Quesadilla Story” is one of several tales in T. Coraghessan Boyle’s second collection of short fiction, Greasy Lake and Other Stories (1985), in which identity and experience are so closely intertwined that they achieve a magic fusion. The title character is an aging baseball player whose profession has consumed his life. A “saint of the stick” during his teenage years in the Mexican League, he enjoyed a respectable career as a utility infielder with several major-league teams. Hector serves as a last-resort pinch hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He refuses to acknowledge his forty—possibly fifty—years, although “he hasn’t played regularly for nearly ten years and can barely trot to first after drawing a walk.”

Hector’s long-suffering wife, Asunción, pleads with him to give up the game and accept his age gracefully, but Hector—who is a father of two and grandfather of four—is intoxicated by the timelessness of the national pastime: “How can he get old? The grass is always green, the lights always shining, no clocks or periods or halves or quarters, no punch-in or punch-out; this is the game that never ends.” Each year, Hector promises Asunción that the next will be his last.

On his birthday, with his family in attendance at a game with the Atlanta Braves, Hector finally senses his “moment of catharsis. The moment to take it out.” It is the bottom of the ninth inning, and the game is...

(The entire section is 434 words.)


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Hector Hernán Jesús y María Quesadilla, an aging baseball player, bemoans the pains of growing old. Of indefinite age, he has played for five teams in the major leagues, compiling a lifetime batting average of .296. He fondly recalls how good he was when he was a nineteen-year-old star in the Mexican League. Now, he is a short, fat pinch-hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although he has not played regularly for ten years and can barely run, he hopes to play one more full season. He refuses to acknowledge his own age, but his son, Hector, Jr., is about to turn twenty-nine, and his daughter, Reina, is expecting her fifth child. Hector considers himself indestructible, an essential part of the game, “eternal as a monument.”

On a game day late in the season, with the Dodgers battling the Atlanta Braves for first place in their division, Hector awakens sensing something unusual. “Today is different, a sainted day,” he thinks. It is his birthday, so his wife, Asunción, cooks him special breakfast treats. After Hector receives gifts from his children and grandchildren, he senses that today he will play and he has no doubt that he will hit. In the baseball game later that day, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the score is tied. Bernard Dupuy, the Gelusil-guzzling manager, calls for Hector to bat. With two outs and a runner on second, it is a moment of catharsis, a moment to hit a home run. Suddenly Corcoran, the Atlanta pitcher, collapses in pain. He is replaced by star reliever Kerensky, Hector’s personal nemesis. However, because it is his birthday, the aged pinch-hitter sees these developments as providential. Unexpectedly, Dupuy replaces Hector with Dave Tool, a lumbering, inconsistent power...

(The entire section is 702 words.)