At age 12, Steve began what is now a 53-year relationship with Officer Thomson and with PAL.

“In 1968, I was lined up with 50 other kids waiting for the PAL Center to open.”

Although Steve later played on several PAL sports teams, when the 26th District PAL first opened, “Our center didn’t have a gym. We had two bowling lanes, two pool tables, two ping pong tables. Later, we got weights and started a lifting program.”

Steve was a two-time participant in PAL Day at City Hall, once shadowing legendary  Deputy Police Commissioner Harry G. Fox.

“My relationship with Officer Thomson was special from Day One. I followed him around the center every day. We had a routine when there was a big event like PAL Day at City Hall or my first Metroliner ride to Washington, D.C. where I met President [Richard M.] Nixon. Officer Thomson would come to the house to pick me up, and he’d come in to have breakfast with my Mom and me … and he’d tell my Mom what I was up to.

“Officer Thomson led by example. He didn’t TELL you how to behave; he SHOWED you. We lived in a very diverse community, and he showed us how to develop relationships with all kinds of people.

“We learned sportsmanship from him … In baseball when the older guys were at bat, you HAD to swing. He didn’t call “balls” on the older guys; every pitch was a “strike” whether you swung or not. When the younger kids were at bat, he’d come out and pitch to them himself – underhand.”

“When it was time for me to go to my freshman orientation at Kutztown State College [now Kutztown University], I didn’t know how I was going to get there. My family didn’t own a car, but Officer Thomson picked me up at home and drove me in his own car to Kutztown for the orientation.”

How does a Mastbaum grad with six siblings and not much money get to college? One of the mentors Steve met through PAL was Dan Polett, owner of Wilkie Buick, a former Chair of the Board of Temple University. Polett also served on the scholarship committee for the Union League Citizenship Award, and submitted Steve’s application. Steve got the Union League award, and a $500 City of Philadelphia Scholarship through the School District, and a $250 annual PAL Scholarship. He pieced these awards together with gifts from mentors he met through PAL, and savings from after-school and summer jobs to make it through. Steve graduated with a degree in Business Administration.

Steve volunteered at his PAL center during college vacations, and after graduation. At Kutztown, he played offensive guard and was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles as a free agent in 1978 and to the New York Jets in 1979. Steve was inducted into the Kutztown University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982, and into the PAL Hall of Fame in 1992.

Steve was elected to the PAL Board in 1989. An avid golfer, in 1991 he joined fellow Board members Jim Schleif, Jim McCabe, Ron Krancer, Phil Kind, and Don Heller to launch the first PAL Golf Outing which raised $35,000. Steve chaired the annual event 1996-2013, and within the first 10 years the total raised annually hit $100,000.

In 32 years as a PAL Board member, Steve has developed deep professional and personal friendships throughout the organization … and collected loads of PAL memorabilia and clothing. “To this day, every day of the week I wear something – a shirt, a hat, a jacket – with the PAL logo.”

Steve and his wife Carolyn have consistently supported the PAL Scholarship Foundation, and in 2016, Steve was instrumental in securing gifts totaling $353,000 to the 26th District PAL Center in honor of Officer Thomson.

In 2021, Steve was elevated to the PAL Emeriti Board, an honor reserved for former Board members who have served with distinction.


June 2022