Steinbach reflects on MLB career

Former New Ulmite Terry Steinbach agreed that he is one of the few who have “lived the dream” when he played 14 years of Major League Baseball with both the Oakland Athletics and the Minnesota Twins.

“It has been fun,” said Steinbach, who spoke at Martin Luther College on Thursday night. “You watch some of the younger players coming up now and you sit back and think about what they are going through and remember what I went through. I can recall what they are thinking about.”

But the dreams of being a professional athlete, especially in baseball, are many times hard to accomplish.

“You look at the number of people who do get to play pro baseball and they are very low,” Steinbach said. “In baseball it is less than 1 percent of all the people drafted that make it to the major leagues. It is a long shot because so many things have to happen – be lucky, be in the right place at the right time, you have to perform when the right people are watching and you have to have some talent. Even then everything has to fall into place.”

Steinbach said that one of the biggest questions that he gets about being a professional athlete is the money.

“There is so much focus on the money,” he said. “They think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of that money?’ Yes it is but when you start to tell them what it takes to obtain that from the amount of time that you work out in the offseason, the time you have to go to spring training and the time that you are putting on the field.

“For a 7 p.m. game you are at the field at 1:30 that afternoon and after the 7 p.m. game it is midnight before you are home. You sometimes have to move your family and kids around. It is a real commitment. But it is a glamorous life – you turn on the TV and the Twins are playing. They have been at the field at 1:30 and after the game they get on a plane and fly to Kansas City and do it all over again. And they still have not been home yet since Feb. 1.”

Steinbach said that the thing that he benefited the most from being the youngest of three boys – Tim and Tom were older – is that he just played baseball.

“When I was playing baseball I did not realize that I was going to get drafted,” he said. “When I played on the 1978 New Ulm Legion team that went to the World Series, there were scouts there but I am the young guy. They are looking at Tom or Doug Palmer or Jeff Schugel. I thought that they were looking at them. It did not dawn on me until the June draft.”

He said one of the most scary things about being a pro athlete now is the social media.

“I think that it is horrendous in sports,” Steinbach said. “You can instantly find any comment that [Twins GM] Terry Ryan said: If you are a minor leaguer and you even think about mentioning a player’s name, you can instantly know that if he is not mentally strong enough to handle that information, it can hurt him.”

Steinbach said that not having a baseball uniform on for almost the last two years has been an adjustment.

“I know that Gardy [former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire] and I talked quite a bit because it was similar for us,” Steinbach said. “Last summer was his first time ever to never have any type of baseball commitment and it was my first time to not coach at a high school level or to not play as a player but it was OK.

“There are parts of the game that you miss. But my wife Mary and I spent six days at the lake and I did not have to look at my watch and see when I have to be at the park. It was nice.”

HOFFMANN NAMED HITTER OF THE WEEK: New Ulm’s Zach Hoffmann, a senior at St. Cloud State University, was named the Division II Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

In a four-game series against Southwest State University on April 3 and 4, Hoffmann hit .706 with 12 hits, seven runs scored, two doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs along with 23 total bases. He also had 17 putouts one assist and no errors.

On the season, Hoffmann is hitting .420 with 34 hits, 22 runs scored, 28 RBIs along with eight doubles and four home runs for the No. 1-ranked Huskies (22-0).

SCSU is scheduled to host Upper Iowa beginning at noon this weekend at Joe Faber Field in doubleheaders both Saturday and Sunday. Another New Ulmite playing baseball at SCSU, Judd Davis, is hitting .509 on the season.