Rooting for the Indians—A Memoir
Shortly before my ninth birthday, in the spring of 1948, as the British were preparing to leave Palestine and let the Jews and Arabs fight it out between themselves, I became a Cleveland Indians fan. Although I was born and raised on the West Side of Manhattan and had never been in Cleveland in my life, this struck me as no impediment. A new enthusiast for professional sports, I wanted to be different from the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers fans around me. When the major-league teams went south for spring training, I drew up a list of them and casually picked a favorite. The two teams whose names I liked most were the Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the catchy alliteration of which appealed to me. In the end, though, I settled on the Indians, lighting a torch for Cleveland that burned bright until, sometime in adolescence, my interest in baseball flickered out almost as suddenly as it had caught fire.
Yet perhaps not so casually after all. Jerusalem lay under siege while I followed the news from a distance, its lifeline of convoys ambushed on mountain roads. Was not choosing the second exile of being a Cleveland fan in New York (I was never to encounter another) the vain attempt of a neurotic sufferer to lighten his burden by broadening its base? And had not the Indians had their land stolen by the white man just as mine had been stolen by the Roman, the Arab, and the Englishman? Ever since I saw my first Western, roped into a boisterous children’s section that cheered at every red man toppled from his horse, I had rooted for them with the instinctive sympathy of like for like.
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