Lipman Pike hated to stand still. From behind the cashbox he shook out his left leg, and then his right.
The bell above the door jingled. Lip glanced toward his older brother, but Boaz was studying in the back room and didn’t even look up.
“Good day, Mrs. Kaufman,” Lip’s father said. Mr. Pike was always polite. The neighbors called him “a real gentleman.”
“Goede dag,” Mrs. Kaufman said. She had met Lip’s father years ago on the boat that had brought them to America from Holland. Sometimes she still spoke Dutch. “My son is in need of …”
Lip leaped into action. It was 45 feet to the front window display. Ninety feet round trip: exactly the distance between home plate and first base. Lip could run it in 14 seconds. He grabbed a package and raced head down. He heard fast-moving footsteps behind him and looked up in time to see Boaz slam a pair of boy’s stockings on the counter.
“The best service in the city!” Mr. Pike announced proudly. “My boys could beat a racehorse in the home stretch.”
“I finished my bar mitzvah homework,” Boaz told his father, as he and Lip headed toward the door. “Can we go watch the men play Base?”
It seemed like everybody in Brooklyn was playing this exciting new game. Each neighborhood club had a team and even some of the Jewish boys would practice batting and throwing when their parents weren’t watching.
“Not my sons!” Mrs. Pike complained to her husband. “If grown lads chased after a leather ball in Europe, people would call them childish. Boaz is almost a man, and when Lip finishes his chores, he should exercise his mind.”
“I won’t let Base interfere with the boys’ education,” Mr. Pike promised his wife. “But in America even the smartest young men chase balls like silly boys. We want our children to fit in with their neighbors, not to live like foreigners in their birthplace.”