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
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.
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.
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.
“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.”