Take Me Out to the Ballgame by Gary Morgenstein

ballgameReviewed by Allen Hott

Exactly how far does fan support go and what can happen because of it? In today’s society it isn’t enough to play a game and to enjoy the competition. Today the participant must win and win at any cost. But when this attitude delves its way into the minds of the fans it can become a very dangerous occurrence.

Gary Morgenstein has taken that premise and developed a somewhat strange and yet very scary possibility of what happens when over stimulated fans get involved with major league baseball.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame is a story of the Buffalo Matadors baseball team, which has been mired in the bottom of the standings of big league baseball for too many years. When enough becomes enough the owner decides it is time to make a change. He believes that first of all he needs to build fan support and from there the ball club will begin to right its downward spiral.

And so Harry Witkowski looks for and finds whom he believes to be the perfect candidate to help pull the Matadors back to the top. Egged on even more by Eddie Olds, the local Buffalo sports writer who has been picking on both the Matadors and Harry about their situation, Harry picks a PR man named Ned Switzer to help rebuild the ball club’s fan standing. Because not only have the Mats been losing but also they have definitely lost their fan base and attendance is at an all time low.

Switzer comes out of the gate flying! He brings in cheerleaders (all female and in scanty costumes); he puts in a new razzle-dazzle scoreboard that talks to the fans; and he begins getting Harry into the action. Fleisher convinces Harry that they need to get the fans very involved. If an opponent needs to reach into the stands to catch a pop foul ball, the Mats’ management encourages the fans to stand in the way and even contend with the player so he cannot make the catch. And it gets even worse as fans throw things onto the field when they are not in favor of a call.

Among these wayward fans are a group of guys led by Cal Fleisher. Cal is one of the staunchest Matador fans and considers himself to be their Number 1 fan. Harry himself eventually absorbs Cal’s group as he exhorts the fans right in their seats on their own level. As the season wears on the Matadors battle fiercely with the Racers whose big star, Virgil Kent, annihilates the Matadors in almost every outing. The cry of the Matadors becomes, “Get Kent!”

The season builds to a dramatic finish and the Matador fans are relishing every inning! However prior to the finale between the two teams in their battle for the championship many more incidents and twists are put into place by Morgenstein. By the end the reader practically needs a scorecard to keep up with the various players and the action.

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