2004-05-28 / Community

‘Still Pitching,’ A Memoir Of Growing Up In Rockaway

A Wave Review By Howard Schwach

‘Still Pitching,’ A Memoir Of Growing Up In Rockaway


Steinberg’s    graduation picture in The Dolphin, the FRHS yearbook.Steinberg’s graduation picture in The Dolphin, the FRHS yearbook.

A Wave Review By Howard Schwach

Look at Mike Steinberg’s entry in the 1958 Dolphin, the Far Rockaway High School yearbook, and you will see a typical overachiever of that era.

"Baseball Team, Chat, Arista, Senior Play Committee, President of Section. After, College."

Born and reared in Belle Harbor, with local schools on his resume, Steinberg has written a witty, definitive book about growing up in Rockaway in the era after World War II, with an eye to women, neighborhood and, particularly, baseball and the Brooklyn Dodgers.


A 1958 picture of Mike Steinberg in his Far Rockaway High School uniform, a uniform, by the way, handed down by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the team.A 1958 picture of Mike Steinberg in his Far Rockaway High School uniform, a uniform, by the way, handed down by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the team.

"Still Pitching (Michigan State University Press, 2003), is a memoir that is a must-read for anybody who attended Far Rockaway High School during those halcyon days.

It tells of Rockaway as a small town, before the subway came to Rockaway and before there were either junior high schools or a second Rockaway high school. In those days, Far Rockaway drew students from Breezy Point to Rosedale.

It is, however, more than just a book about a neighborhood.

It details how a passion for baseball – a passion fueled by this city’s "Golden Age of Baseball," during which one of New York City’s three baseball teams made it to the World Series for ten consecutive years, transformed the author from an introverted outsider into a talented high school pitcher and journalist.

Steinberg names all the names. From the Spaulding games he had on his Belle Harbor front stoop with Peter Desimone and Mike Rubin to his fellow baseball players at Far Rockaway High School – Steve Berman (who went on to become a successful art director) to Dickie Webb (who went on to become an equally-successful FDNY Captain), Leon Cholakis, (whose parents owned a Beach 116 Street restaurant and who went on to block for Jimmy Brown at Syracuse).

The author documents everything, from the girls who first spurned him, Elaine Hirsch, Alice Rosen, Sandy Kaufman and Linda Firestein to the coaches who developed him, including the great Jack Kirschman – the quintessential Far Rockaway High School Coaching legend who had him chasing foul balls onto Bay 26 Street.

For one who graduated the year prior to Steinberg, the meat of the story is in the chapters that discuss his time at Far Rockaway High School.

His time with Earl Jagust, the long-time faculty advisor for the school newspaper, The Chat; his run-ins with Kirschman; his tryout for the baseball team where balls were hit to fielders in the gymnasium; all have the familiar ring of memory.

For those who remember Rockaway in the fifties, this is the book to read on the beach this summer.

For those who did not live in Rockaway, reading the book is a good way to see what the peninsula was like nearly 50 years ago.


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