Deacon King Kong

by

James McBride

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Baseball Symbol Analysis

Baseball Symbol Icon

Baseball represents the realization of the American Dream to the residents of the Causeway Projects. Sportcoat is the best baseball coach in the Cause. and Deems is his greatest pupil. In Deems, Sportcoat sees someone who can transcend the poverty and brutality of the projects to achieve greatness in Major League Baseball. However, like many of Sportcoat’s players, Deems gives up baseball to start dealing drugs. At the beginning of the novel, Deems thinks that dealing drugs is the only possible way for him to achieve personal and economic freedom. Recognizing that dealing drugs will harm Deems and the Causeway community, Sportcoat comes to Deems repeatedly and asks him to return to baseball. Sportcoat knows that dealing drugs will harm Deems and the Causeway community. He even resorts to shooting Deems in an effort to stop Deems from ruining his life, though he doesn’t succeed in killing him. Eventually, after Sportcoat makes a second attempt on Deems’s life, Deems decides to return to baseball, and he becomes an instant success. By the end of the novel, he’s made it to the minor league and may soon play in the major league. Instead of shying away from Deems like they did before, the community embraces this reformed version of Deems who has achieved their collective dream and made a better life for himself. Not only does Deems turn his life around, but he does so by playing the quintessential American sport, thus making him an embodiment of the American Dream.

Baseball Quotes in Deacon King Kong

The Deacon King Kong quotes below all refer to the symbol of Baseball. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
).
Chapter 2: A Dead Man Quotes

Clemens was the New Breed of colored in the Cause. Deems wasn’t some poor colored boy from down south or Puerto Rico or Barbados who arrived in New York with empty pockets and a Bible and a dream […] Deems didn’t give a shit about white people, or education, or sugarcane, or cotton, or even baseball, which he had once been a whiz at. None of the old ways meant a penny to him. He was a child of Cause, young, smart, and making money hand over fist slinging dope at a level never before seen in the Cause Houses. He had high friends and high connections from East New York all the way to Far Rockaway, Queens, and any fool in the Cause stupid enough to open their mouth in his direction ended up hurt bad or buried in an urn in an alley someplace.

Related Characters: Deems Clemens, Sportcoat
Related Symbols: Baseball
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3: Jet Quotes

Rather it was the memory, not long ago, of Sportcoat shagging fly balls with him at the baseball field on warm spring afternoons; it was Sportcoat who taught him how to pivot and zing a throw to home plate from 350 feet out […] Sportcoat made him a star in baseball. He was the envy of the white boys on the John Jay High School baseball team, who marveled at the college scouts who risked life and limb to venture to the funky, dirty Cause Houses baseball field to watch him pitch. But that was another time, when he was a boy and his grandpa was living. He was a man now, nineteen, a man who needed money. And Sportcoat was a pain in the ass.

Related Characters: Sportcoat, Deems Clemens
Related Symbols: Baseball
Page Number: 28-29
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10: Soup Quotes

Like most of Sportcoat’s team, Soup disappeared from adult radar at the Cause when he entered the labyrinth of his teenage years. One minute he was striking out to the guffaws of the opposing team, the Watch Houses, the next minute word got out that Soup was in jail—adult jail—at seventeen. What put him there, no one seemed to know. It didn’t matter. Everybody went to jail in the Cause eventually. You could be the tiniest ant able to slip into a crack in the sidewalk, or a rocket ship that flew fast enough to break the speed of sound, it didn’t matter. When society dropped its hammer on your head, well, there it is. Soup got seven years. It didn’t matter what it was for.

Related Characters: Soup Lopez, Sportcoat
Related Symbols: Baseball
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17: Harold Quotes

“Seen ’em all,” Sportcoat said proudly. “Even barnstormed a little myself, but I had to make money. That ain’t gonna be Deems’s problem. He’ll make plenty money in the bigs. He got the fire and the talent. You can’t take the love of ball out of a ballplayer, Sausage. Can’t be done. There’s a baseball player in that boy.”

Related Characters: Sportcoat (speaker), Hot Sausage, Deems Clemens
Related Symbols: Baseball
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Deacon King Kong LitChart as a printable PDF.
Deacon King Kong PDF

Baseball Symbol Timeline in Deacon King Kong

The timeline below shows where the symbol Baseball appears in Deacon King Kong. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Jesus’s Cheese
Community and Religion Theme Icon
...Hot Sausage, suggests that Sportcoat shot Deems to settle a disagreement between the Cause Houses baseball team and their rival, the Watch Houses. Still, nobody really knows why Sportcoat did it—not... (full context)
Chapter 3: Jet
Race and Power Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...reaches Deems, who is standing around with members of his crew, he asks Deems about baseball. Previously, Deems was the best baseball player the Cause had ever seen, and Sportcoat was... (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
When Sportcoat asks Deems why he stopped playing baseball, Deems tells Sportcoat that he’s found a better way to make money instead. In response,... (full context)
Chapter 7: The March of the Ants
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...get away with way more than anyone else in the Cause because Sportcoat was his baseball coach. Yet, Sportcoat shot him anyway. (full context)
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Race and Power Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...became the primary light in Deems’s childhood. Deems has plenty of fond memories of playing baseball with Sportcoat and going on trips with him. (full context)
Chapter 8: The Dig
Community and Religion Theme Icon
...corner, attempts to hit Sportcoat with a pipe. However, before Earl can do so, a baseball that two neighborhood kids attempted to throw at Sportcoat hits him in the head. The... (full context)
Chapter 10: Soup
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...questions about Soup. Sportcoat likes Soup because he used to be a member of his baseball team. Unfortunately, like many members of Sportcoat’s baseball team, Soup ended up getting in trouble... (full context)
Chapter 12: Mojo
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
...hard worker whose community respects him. He tells Hettie that he plans on returning to baseball soon. However, Hettie dismisses the importance of baseball for the community. Sportcoat assures her that... (full context)
Chapter 14: Rat
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Race and Power Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...wronged him. Lightbulb tells this story to Bunch. After Deems’s grandfather died, Deems stopped playing baseball and turned to drug dealing instead. Deems’s cousin Rooster recruited him, and Deems joined a... (full context)
Chapter 17: Harold
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
...actually hurt him because he’s built up too much goodwill over the years as Deems’s baseball coach. Additionally, he thinks he can get Deems to give up drug dealing and to... (full context)
Chapter 23: Last Octobers
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
...from talking to Hot Sausage. Together, the two of them talked about Deems’s future in baseball. When Sportcoat relates this conversation to Deems, it only makes Deems angrier. He begins cursing... (full context)
Chapter 26: Beautiful
Substance Abuse Theme Icon
Community and Religion Theme Icon
Parental Figures and Masculinity  Theme Icon
Love, Hope, and Redemption Theme Icon
...with Sportcoat, is no longer selling drugs. Instead, he’s managed to join a minor league baseball team (the Iowa Cubs) and is well on his way to playing professionally. Additionally, two... (full context)