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Strike-Out Pitcher Strong-Arms His Way Through Public League
Maybe it's the royal-blue jersey with white lettering. Or maybe it's the site of a tall, Jewish, left-handed pitcher wearing a cap displaying a finely etched "B," throwing with speed and movement that has made people say that Jesse Steinberg, 17, slightly resembles Brooklyn Dodgers legend Sandy Kofax.
A 6-foot-1-inch senior at Bodine High School for International Affairs in Northern Liberties, Steinberg pitched in six of the team's 11 regular season games, primarily using a fastball/curveball combination to strike out a whopping 51 batters in that span. He's also earned two complete games this season by pitching for seven innings, the full length of a high school game.
"As a joke, the team says 'mazel tov' when I get a strike out," he said.
In a recent matchup with Overbrook High School, the teen struck out every batter he faced, with the exception of two walks. Steinberg earned a three-inning no-hitter after the 16-0 score prompted the game to be called.
"I was in a groove," he said, noting that he would have enjoyed the chance to try for a seven-inning no-hitter, but was happier to rest his arm, which allowed him to pitch in the team's next game.
Playing first base when he's not on the mound, Steinberg has also had a good year at the plate.
In a May 1 game against Murrel Dobbins Career & Technical School, he got three hits, including a two-run homer -- his first of the year.
"I think it was a change up," he said. "It was a 3-0 count, and I just bombed it to right field."
Only in the second year of its baseball program, Bodine earned a 6-5 record this season.
In its first Public League playoff game on Tuesday, Bodine lost to Philadelphia Academy Charter School 6-3, with Steinberg pitching six innings and striking out eight batters, while walking just one.
"It's pretty nerve racking. If I lose, I might cry," he said in an interview a couple days before the game. "I push myself really hard; that's all I can do."
Steinberg -- who became a Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed at Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Center City -- also plays soccer for the school and basketball as a hobby. But it's baseball that reigns supreme.
"Baseball is just fun," he said. "People say it's boring to watch, but to me, it's really exciting."
Set to attend Temple University next year, Steinberg, who plans to major in computer science, will be living away from home for the first time. Playing baseball, however, is still on his radar, as he hopes to earn a spot as a walk-on.
If he can't make it, he expects to remain persistent.
"If I don't make the baseball team this year," he said, "I'll try out next year -- and keep on trying."