To pigeonhole Michael Steinberg’s Still Pitching as a ‘baseball memoir’ is equivalent to calling Izaak Walton’s The Complete Angler a tract on fishing. Both books far exceed the subject matter indicated by their respective titles, though clearly the national obsession--or national pastime--for both baseball and fly-fishing does indeed foster a similar fanaticism, one that borders more often than not on the spiritual. Steinberg enters this territory early on:I feel a catch-in-the-throat sensation--a sense of wonder and awe that still overwhelms me every time I visit a baseball stadium. It’s a signal that I’m about to cross a sanctified threshold and enter a world of gods and heroes, a universe where ordinary life falls away, where the stakes are high and the outcome is always in doubt.Yes, ‘a world of gods and heroes,’ but those invoked include not only the greats who still loom larger than life in the culture’s collective imagination, but those who don’t--the other Babe, for example, George ‘Babe’ Herman, “who had the ignominious distinction of winding up on third base with two other teammates.” And it’s with these outcasts, these ‘fellow pretenders’ that Steinberg feels his greatest affinity, and discovers his most enduring metaphors for struggle and acceptance, for enacting that next “gritty (if improbable) comeback.”It’s the ‘50’s in New York, and this wonderfully moving memoir is as deeply committed to place and family and growing up as it is to baseball and its perennial contention club of that systolic decade, the old Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s a memoir about community and friendships both Jewish and non-Jewish, about loyalty, but mostly--and with a prose-style as convincing as the pop of a Sandy Koufax fastball in the catcher’s mitt--it mines that interior territory where the heart confronts its deepest fears and desires, and puts them all at risk, thus creating honest and enduring human tensions.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Michael Steinberg's Still Pitching is an insightful and engaging memoir. At eye level it shows that success is the result of perseverance, discipline and heart. At gut level it's a wrenching examination of what it meant to be an adolescent male in the late 1950s.
This elegant little reminiscence presents a middle-aged man's recollections of his coming of age through baseball, friendship, and conflict. The baseball story is itself twofold: the tale of the beloved Boys of Summer-the Brooklyn Dodgers-and Steinberg's own quest to become an excellent ballplayer, one capable of garnering the respect of his coaches and appreciation from classmates, family members, and girlfriends. His touching stories of painful interactions with girls once puberty has taken hold ring true. Equally real are his accounts of deflecting attacks (verbal and otherwise) from tougher, more street-smart kids, including at least one of a sociopathic nature. In the midst of it all, Steinberg acquires a love for both baseball and the written word, becoming first a voracious reader and then an eager contributor to school newspapers. The story ends with the once short, pudgy lad acquiring a certain allure to the girls from the other side of town, turning into an overachieving star reliever on his high school team and bemoaning the departure of the Dodgers to Los Angeles. For general libraries.-R.C. Cottrell, California State Univ., Chico Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.