A story too good to be fiction came to an end Tuesday when former Gophers baseball star Terry Steinbach hung up his mask.
The hometown hero, who signed with the Twins in 1997 to finish his career as Minnesota’s catcher, made it official at a Tuesday press conference announcing his retirement.
After 11 years and two World Series rings in Oakland, the New Ulm native said he was happy he could end his career in Minnesota.
“Being born and raised here, to have the opportunity to come back and finish my career here, it’s been a dream come true,” Steinbach said.
Gophers baseball coach John Anderson said Steinbach’s tenure in Minnesota was good for the state as well.
“I enjoyed being able to follow him more closely, and just having him as a part of our community has had a positive impact,” Anderson said.
Steinbach reflected on his 14-year career Tuesday, recounting accomplishments including three World Series appearances, the 1988 All-Star Game where he was named MVP and catching an Eric Milton no-hitter last year.
But when asked how he wished to be remembered, Steinbach said he hoped people would remember his approach to the game.
“Not the home runs, not the runners I threw out, not the big plays, but how did you treat the game,” Steinbach said. “I always felt honored to put on a major league uniform.”
Anderson, who coached Steinbach from 1980 to 1983, said that was exactly what stood out about Steinbach in his mind.
“There wasn’t a day that he put on a major league uniform that he took for granted,” Anderson said. “The thing that always impressed me was that he played the game with passion and with respect.”
Steinbach said he was not sure what he would do in the future, but baseball would always be a part of his life.
“That’s going to be the hardest part, when summer comes around. It’s going to be an adjustment, but I’m not going to run away from the game; I’ll walk away,” Steinbach said.
Steinbach also stressed his need to spend time with his wife and three children as important factors in his decision.
“We’ll be here in Minnesota. I still have family here, and this is where we want to raise our kids,” Steinbach said.
Steinbach starred in American Legion baseball and New Ulm High School hockey, where he is still the hockey team’s all-time leading scorer. He then attended the University, where he played third base and was named All-Big Ten in 1982 and 1983.
Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in June 1983, Steinbach switched to catcher, where he would remain for the rest of his career. He made his major league debut in September 1986, homering in his first major league at-bat.
Steinbach did not rule out coaching in the future, possibly at the college level, but said now he is just going to enjoy retirement.
“I just decided in the last six to eight hours to retire, but so far it feels pretty good. … At some point I would like to coach, but maybe when my kids are a little older,” Steinbach said.
For now, Steinbach said he was content to play catch with his sons and enjoy life in his home state.
“I am going to miss the game, and it will be a transition, but I feel comfortable closing the baseball book of my life for now. It’s time to open a new book,” Steinbach said.
Josh Linehan welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3212.