Twelve-year-old Steve Diamond loves baseball. Although his family is poor, he spends nearly every leisure moment playing or watching the game rather than working to supplement the family’s meager income. Steve’s obsession with the game is a constant source of perplexity and irritation to Dave Diamond, Steve’s father, who is a carpenter’s assistant. Anna Diamond, Steve’s mother, does not understand her son’s fascination with the sport either but is tolerant of it. When a major league team comes to town to play an exhibition game, Dave reluctantly agrees to take Steve if Steve will promise to help with some carpentry work. Steve agrees, and they go off to the stadium. Dave is unable to share his son’s enthusiasm for the game and is appalled by Steve’s extensive knowledge of professional teams and players. He feels that the time spent following professional baseball is time wasted. Steve feels isolated and chilled by his father’s sullen disapproval.
As they are leaving the park after the game, Steve joins a throng of young autograph seekers swarming around the players, but he is too shy to get close enough to ask for a signature. Then one of the stars of the game breaks away from the crowd and strides toward the dugout. His cap falls off at Steve’s feet, and Steve picks it up. He looks at the player in “an awed trance.” The player, responding to the worship and appeal in Steve’s eyes, tells him to keep it. Dave and Steve hurry home with the news.
In the following days, Steve is seldom without the cap on his head even though it is too big for him. Inevitably, Steve’s parents tire of all the fuss that Steve and his friends make about the cap. One night, Steve is very late coming home from the park where he usually plays baseball. When he finally arrives, he desolately explains that he has been searching for the cap, which must have been stolen. Dave is furious with Steve because he does not understand how the boy could lose something that is so important to him. Steve explains that he was not careless, that he put the cap in his back pocket because it kept falling off when he ran the bases. Someone, he believes, must have taken it from there. Dave remains uncompromisingly bitter about the situation, suggesting to Steve that he lost the cap only because he did not have a right appreciation of its value. Night after night, Steve returns to the park, looking for his cap.
A few weeks later, Steve and his father are passing an ice-cream parlor when Steve spots...
(The entire section is 1027 words.)