STEVEN MIRAGLIA finished a lengthy discussion about the ins and outs of his life by making the comment, "Everything's going smoothly. Knock on wood."
Those were not some lighthearted, throw-away lines.
The 5-10, 210-pound Miraglia is, thankfully, winding down his final season as an important first baseman for Prep Charter's baseball team. From late September into wintertime, he was worried there'd be no more sports in his life . . . after first getting past the fear that perhaps there'd be no life at all.
Because of infections on the inside and outside of his heart, Miraglia spent roughly 2 weeks at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and was out of school for close to 1 1/2 months.
Now? He's headed for La Salle University with plans on becoming a cardiologist.
"After going through such a difficult stretch, I just want to help people," he said, simply.
Monday, Miraglia and PC traveled to Front and Erie for a Public A game against Esperanza (charter) Academy that was halted in the home seventh after a pair of Toros were ejected for complaining about balls and strikes.
PC triumphed, 12-5, as Miraglia stroked two hits and made the same number of fancy-footwork plays at first base, likely preventing errors.
"The heart thing was pretty scary," Miraglia said. "The infections caused swelling and my heart was pressing against my ribs. Breathing got to be pretty difficult.
"I lost a lot of weight, because the medicine usually upset my stomach and I mostly limited myself to juice and crackers."
Then came the long climb back . . .
"If I'd missed my last baseball season, I would have been devastated," Miraglia said. "I finally got cleared Dec. 17 after I passed a stress test.
"I've been playing baseball my whole life, it seems like. I don't remember a time when I wasn't. My grandparents [Bob and Betty Landy] used to take me to the beach to play Wiffle ball and then my dad [Tony] got me started with T-ball."
Miraglia's hits traveled between third and short.
"It was the same guy [Gio Victoria] we faced the first time we played them," he said. "I remembered his pattern. Fastball to start you off, then a cruve. If he fell behind, all you had to do was sit fastball."
Miraglia must have relayed those traits to Joe Suppa, who went 5-for-5 (all singles) and Justin Bocelli (2-for-4 with a double). Peter Piccoli took care of the mound duties, striking out 10.
Both schools are Class AA, and PC won the top seed for that portion of the upcoming playoffs.
Miraglia, who lives on 17th near Shunk, attended the now-closed Stella Maris School. He and one classmate (no longer enrolled) opted for PC, while many of the others headed for Ss. Neumann-Goretti.
"I just wanted something different, and I'm glad I came here," Miraglia said. "The teachers are great. If you're struggling, they'll help you through it, and they always give you lots of encouragement on game day."
Meanwhile, upon entering La Salle, Miraglia, described by PC coach Shawn Magee as "a guy we've been able to count on all season long," will boast three credits apiece in science and math. He and teammate Mike Lyons recently completed a special, Monday-Wednesday-Friday program at the Community College of Philadelphia. They'd remain at PC until 11:15, then head up to CCP at 17th and Spring Garden.
Aside from doing work, did Miraglia win the hearts of some coeds?
"I tried," he said, laughing. "But since it was chilly, I was always wearing my Prep Charter hoodie with class of 2013 on it. They knew I wasn't really in college yet."
CCP must not offer cougar classes.