Cover Image: The Short Life of Hughie McLoon

The Short Life of Hughie McLoon

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Member Reviews

I came into this book thinking it would be a true story about the life of Hugie McLoon, and it was. It started with his death then launched into the story of who he was and what he did. But it focused more on baseball superstition than I would have really been interested in. Overall, this is a good book if you love baseball, baseball mascots, and reading about people who didn't always make good decisions.

Thank you NetGalley and Sutherland House for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.
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Hughie McLoon did in fact live a short life, however it was also a really difficult one, but he was also somewhat respected. I picture Hughie as a sweet boy who wanted to be himself without his disability.

The story itself is based on a true story so it has real facts about a real person shich I like very much. We can learn from stories like these and reflect on our own lives and on our own views.
This biography was beautifully written I felt every sentence of it and I read it as a narrator would. It was just an utterly good experience.

Thank you to NetGalley, Allen Abel and Sutherland House for providing me a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Although he had a short life. He had a rough life. At an early age, Hughie had an accident. Somehow  caused him to be hunchback. As it centers around. Hughie being a mascot and all that entails back then to baseball and prohibition.
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A solid historical account of the era. I found the writing very disjointed and confusing.. The historical component of the book was interesting but it jumped around too much to flow well. Did not do a good job of engaging the reader with the characters.
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The title suggest Hughie McLoon and there is information on him, but it doesn't totally focus on him and probably could have just been a book about superstition and lucky sporting mascots, especially in Baseball. Still an interesting read.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the author Allen Abel and the Publisher in allowing me to read this book for a fair and honest review.

This book is based on fact. Mainly around the 1910-20 period. A lot of it is about superstitions in the newly formed Baseball team in Philadelphia (the A's). Hughie McLoon fell off a seesaw at the age of 3 and it took him 7 years after that to learn to walk again. The fall caused him to be a hunchback and hunchbacks were well sort after as mascots in baseball. 

The book was exceptionally well researched and well written. I have given it 3 stars. I would normally have only given it 2 stars because it is not the sort of book for me. However, it is not the authors fault I chose this book to read so i should not be penalising the author, but at the same time I can not give it any more because I did not really enjoy it. 

If you are after a book based on fact around the 1910-20 period set in Philadelphia and are a baseball fan, you will probably love this book.
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In the early 20th century, baseball, boxing and life in the United States was in some ways vastly different than today and in others, it seems very similar.  This contrast is illustrated in this biography of a young man who despite living a relatively short life, had many different lifestyles in boxing, baseball and owning a speakeasy in the era of Prohibition.


Hughie McLoon had many issues in his life.  He was physically challenged due to a fall off a see saw at age three. His father left his mother when he was five and his stepfather played a more active role in his upbringing, Hughie never officially took the name of his stepfather. However, there were some positives, such winning a Scholars Popularity contest under the name of Hughie Geatens.


Hughie's escape was baseball – first when he attended the games of his local team, the Philadelphia Athletics.  He soon became their batboy and mascot.  The latter was not uncommon for people like Hughie as many teams felt that rubbing the heads or humps of either hunchbacks or people of color would bring them luck.  Hughie didn't mind this as felt he had a role on the team, despite their fall to the bottom of the standings.  This section of the book gave a good look into the Athletics at that time, including owner/manager Connie Mack and the inner workings of a baseball team at that time.

The same could be said for managing a boxer as when Hughie's services were no longer needed for the Athletics, he became a mascot and water bucket carrier for local professional boxers, which led him into the life of being a manager in that sport – complete with the ties to organized crime.  Hughie never became part of a mob family, but he had dealings with them frequently in this and his other occupation, the owner of a speakeasy.  Here is where the book is best at its description of early 20th century Philadelphia, as the push toward Prohibition and the high-living style of the 1920's is on full display.  

These descriptions are what make the book a decent read as the story of Hughie himself at times got lost in the talk of prohibition or baseball business.  Hughie's life may have been too short, and the book at 220 pages might also be considered as such because of all the variations in Hughie's life, but in both cases, it is a fun ride.

I wish to thank Sutherland House for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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