Study Guide

The Team and Their Fans in The Natural

The Team and Their Fans

They were a nutty bunch to begin with but when they were losing they were impossible. It was like some kind of sickness. They threw to the wrong bases, bumped heads together in the outfield, passed each other on the baselines, sometimes batted out of order, throwing both Pop and the ump into fits, and cussed everybody else for their mistakes. (3.84)

This description of Roy's teammates is an interesting take on team dynamics: losing is a sickness, something that spreads among them and that they can't avoid. It's also pretty hilarious. Once Roy arrives, he changes the dynamic and the players actually start to work hard and take a little responsibility. And whaddya know, they start to win and maybe even care about each other.

They're a little suspicious about Roy at first, and wonder if he's concerned about the team or just about himself. They're a superstitious bunch:

To a man they crossed their fingers over spilled salt, or coffee or tea, or at the sight of a hearse. Emil Lajong did a backward flip whenever he located a cross-eyed woman in the stands. […] Bump went through his ritual with the colored threads in his socks. Pop sometimes stroked a rabbit's foot. Red Blow never changed his clothes during a "winning streak," and Flores secretly touched his genitals whenever a bird flew over his head. (3.84)

Birds again. What's the deal with birds?

The fans are a crazy collection of "oddballs, including gamblers, bums, drunks, and some ugly crackpots" (3.85). They seem to be kind of like a baseball announcer's color commentary, giving us some comic relief from the sometimes downright depressing tone of the novel. They're fair weather fans, booing like crazy and throwing vegetables and bottles when the team's losing. But like all fans, they have their favorites to cheer on and obsess about. Roy never forgives the fans for turning against him during his slump.