The City I Love: Steinman hoop legacy bounces on
PITTSFIELD - Rocky Daley's first baseball coach was his future father-in-law. But when you think about it, how hard is it to bump into a Steinman? We all do sooner or later. But when you think about what I just said to think about, it is harder to run into a Steinman when you are not near a basketball court. Because that's where you find Steinmans. Certainly not on baseball fields.
Daley had many incarnations on the diamond. He was a key cog on the Pittsfield West Little League all-star team that won a state title in 1974, while later coaching the sport at Lenox High and serving as player-coach for the semipro Dalton Collegians. He also enjoyed a stellar baseball career at Pittsfield High and Boston College.
And as an 8-year-old player in the city's minor league he was coached by Edwin "Butch" Steinman, whose 4-year-old tag-along daughter, Heidi, would marry Daley years later.
"I probably teased her back then," Rocky said. "Who knows? We used to practice at the St. Mark's field and she would come along and play on the swings."
It's a tale worth telling because It's one of the few, if any, stories told about a Steinman that doesn't involve basketball. In fact, Daley, who teaches at Nessacus Middle School in Dalton, has been reduced from "Mr. Baseball" to simply Bryce's dad or Peyton and Scott's uncle.
Bryce Daley is a freshman standout guard for Pittsfield High and also a member of the nationally ranked Albany City Rocks, an AAU team that has seen some of its players reach the professional ranks.
Scott and Peyton Steinman play respectively for the PHS boys' and girls' teams. Scott's a junior and Peyton a talented freshman. Both are the children of Brett and Shannon (Blake) Steinman. Mom and Dad played hoops for St. Joe.
Deane Steinman's son, Luke, plays JV ball for Wahconah Regional.
The late Lois Landy was an only child. She married Butch, who for all intent and purpose grew up an only child. His sister was 11 years his senior. They must have been lonely in their youth, because they gave the city eight wonderful children, all of whom played basketball locally.
The Steinmans, in order, were the late Scott, Todd, Heidi, Brett, Kipp, Shane, Deane and Hollie. Scott and the two girls played at Taconic, while the other five boys were standouts for Paul Procopio's teams at St. Joe.
The basketball legacy the family shares, said Brett, is something they all find comfortable. His own four sons and daughter were all given a chance to seek other athletic pursuits, but basketball, he said, "was something they all took to."
Oldest son Keelan, now 24, played at PHS, while Scott is a teammate of his cousin Bryce. Younger boys Brett Jr. and London are also actively involved with the sport.
Heidi was a cheerleader for three years before giving in to the athletic pull provided by older brothers Scott and Todd. She contributed well to coach Joe Racicot's 1984 team during her senior year.
Hollie, meanwhile, became a 1,000-point scorer at THS and is a member of the county girls' basketball Hall of Fame.
Brett said Heidi had no choice but to trade in the pompoms for a uniform.
"Scott and Todd were playing ahead of her and it's hard to grow up in a house full of boys and not feel that athletic urge," he said.
"A lot of my friends were surprised," said Heidi, who would follow her brothers to nearby Dorothy Amos Park on lower West Street to do what the boys did. Play ball. Even a little tackle football from time to time was on the agenda.
"Yeah," said Brett. "She mixed it up with us. I'll say this. Most of us tried different organized sports like football and baseball, but basketball stuck. It's what made us the happiest. We gravitated toward it."
And now his own daughter mixes it up with her brothers.
"We take Peyton to the Boys and Girls Club to scrimmage," Brett said. "She looks for boys to play against. I don't discourage that."
Rocky Daley was hoping that his son Bryce might want to pick up the baseball and bat one day. The ball glove, he thinks, is lost in the garage. So, maybe Rocky shouldn't have named his son after former Valpraiso hoop legend Bryce Drew, who electrified the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament in March of 1998, nailing a buzzer-beater to lead his low-seeded team to a win, and then keeping the hot hand in a second-round victory.
"The name stuck with me," said Rocky, who said there is a picture of Drew taped to the kitchen table where Bryce sits and eats his meals. "Bryce was born that next September and Bryce it was."
Rocky and Heidi's daughter, Shae, 14, has found dance to be her athletic liking. The television was showing a UConn women's basketball game when Heidi heard the name of UConn standout Shea Ralph. The sound eventually faded, the name didn't.
"We reversed the last two vowels," Rocky said. "I was afraid people would think I named her after Shea Stadium in New York. But Shae was Heidi's call."
Brett said his and Shannon's quintet -- hey, that's five for a basketball team, but it wasn't planned that way -- were also named creatively. But Keelan, he said, came from one of those baby books with all the names.
"Oh yeah," said Rocky, "The one that if you don't buy it you feel like a crappy parent."
But Brett didn't go to the book for the next four. Scott is named for his late brother, while Peyton is named for NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning. Brett Jr., well, that's obvious. London? How about linebacker London Fletcher from the St. Louis Rams, Brett's favorite football team.
So, it's March. And that means serious basketball. What better time of the year than now to proclaim the Steinmans and their extended family as city treasures. Good players, but more importantly, good people. And a basketball legacy that remains intact and still in progress.
Brian Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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