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Keywords:

  • baseball;
  • nostalgia;
  • social capital;
  • waterfront;
  • urban revitalization;
  • United States

This paper explores the meanings and tensions of community as it is made and remade among fans of the Bluefish, a successful, but financially strapped minor league baseball team in Bridgeport, Connecticut, established in 1997 as part of a highly publicized urban revitalization project. I show how nostalgic desires for familiar places, industrial landscapes, and small town life, produced through selective methods of historical remembering at the new “old-fashioned” ballpark, converge to produce the team as a local “symbol” of recovery set off from other pathologized spaces and realities. I argue that rooting the Bluefish in an abstract narrative about the collapse and revival of “American community” misses the ambivalent meanings and practices noticeable at the ballpark and in competing definitions of community among spectators. In analyzing the moral experience of local fans, I develop the concept of “warning track power,” the practice of turning the ambivalence of internal exclusion against itself. Through cheering practices and nostalgic sensibilities, resident fans make evident the experiential fix in which they find themselves and challenge the hegemonic framing of authenticity, locality and community that is embedded in team promotions and, more generally, the revitalization project.