Chapter 1 Summary

Doug Swieteck's most prized possession is a signed baseball cap given to him by his hero, the great Joe Pepitone. It is "the only thing [he] ever owned that hadn't belonged to some other Swieteck before [him]."

Despite his efforts to keep it safe, however, Doug's brother wrestles the cap away from him one night out of sheer meanness, and passes it off to his friends, until eventually, it is lost. Doug tries to convince his father to take him to Yankee Stadium so that he can see Joe Pepitone again and maybe get another hat. His father is a drunk and responds to his son's entreaties characteristically—with his fists.

Mr. Swieteck has a terrible chip on his shoulder, and when he mouths off to his boss one day, he is unceremoniously fired. He comes home and announces to his family that his friend Ernie Eco has found him a better job at Ballard Paper Mill. They will be moving to Marysville, in upstate New York. Doug's mother is not happy that her husband is renewing his acquaintance with Ernie, who is nothing but trouble, and she is worried that they will not be able to notify their oldest son, Lucas, who is serving in Vietnam, about the move. She has no say in the matter however. Three days later, the Swietecks have everything packed and are ready to leave. Before they go, Holling Hoodhood, a classmate of Doug's from Camillo Junior High School, comes by with a gift. It is the New York Yankees jacket that Holling had received from Joe Pepitone on the same day that Doug had gotten his cap.

The new house at Marysville is small and filthy, and Doug immediately christens it "The Dump." After the big items are unloaded from the truck, Doug is left alone to finish with the smaller boxes, while the rest of the family goes to a diner to get something to eat. When Doug is finished, he goes down into the basement, where he hides the precious jacket that had belonged to Joe Pepitone. He then goes out to explore "stupid Marysville" and runs into a girl his age,...

(The entire section is 812 words.)