How does Doug Swieteck feel about the New York Yankees in Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now, Doug absolutely loves the New York Yankees. He sees them as role models because the ballplayers achieve great things. Since he admires them so much, ballplayers like Joe Pepitone fill an empty place inside Doug's heart. Doug visualizes being friends with Joe since a friendship with Joe would make Doug look like an extraordinary person, not like the useless troublemaker other people see him as being because of the negative influences of his family members.

As Doug relays at the start of the story, the most meaningful moment in Doug's young life, prior to the start of the story, was the time Joe Pepitone and Horace Clarke came to Camillo Junior High School in New Jersey to meet Doug, along with his two classmates Danny Hupfer and Holling Hoodhood. The two Yankee stars played catch with the boys and sang the following as the boys showed off their batting skills: "He's a batta, he's a batta-batta-batta, he's a batta" (Ch. 1). Doug also informs us that "Horace Clarke gave Danny his cap, and Joe Pepitone gave Holling his jacket ..., and then Joe Pepitone handed [Doug] his cap" (Ch. 1).

Ever since that moment of what felt like friendship shared between the boys and the two baseball stars, Doug has occasionally fantasized about still being friends with Joe Pepitone at moments when he feels insecure. For example, on the first day that he arrives at the library well before it opens, because he is eager to see the drawing of the Arctic tern again, he sits on the marble steps waiting. Each person who passes him gives him a look that says he "doesn't belong there," which makes him feel very insecure (Ch. 1). Therefore, he starts wishing Joe Pepitone were there beside him, talking about his ball season. Doug feels that being seen with Joe Pepitone would make the people around him look at him admiringly, not like he is some hoodlum who doesn't belong.