For Hurwitz, the conflict between ten-year-old baseball freak Ezra and his baseball-hating, chess-playing Ph.D. father is a pretty hackneyed situation--and overdrawn to boot. A supposedly smart man like Mr. Feldman should be able to think of something to say to Ezra's friends, for instance, besides ""Read any good books lately?"" (Remarks like ""A southpaw. How about a westpaw?"" don't say much for him--or Hurwitz--either.) But Ezra has an older brother, at Princeton, with whom he has an engagingly man-to-man relationship; and from Harris Ezra learns that he too once had a problem with their father--who wanted Harris to get out-of-doors, away from his bedroom chemistry lab--and learned to compromise. That's when Harris started running; now he's on the cross-country team and planning to enter the New York Marathon. If Ezra, in turn, were to take an interest in chess--practice with his birthday chess computer, maybe even beat his father in a game--""it would prove to him that your brains haven't atrophied from all that baseball."" The idea doesn't really take hold, though, until an elderly, Einstein-type scholar, held in awe by Mr. F., turns out to be a baseball fan too--and impressed with Ezra's knowledge. That clichÃ‰ is matched, at the close, by some homilies about different tastes and open minds. (Going to a double-header hasn't turned Mr. F. into an enthusiast, but he doesn't put it down; polishing up his chess hasn't turned Ezra into an addict, but he's willing to give it a whirl--off-season.) Still, it's all painless and probably to the good.