Hartman: All-Star MVP was a career thrill for Steinbach

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2014 - 12:44 AM

The Twins bench coach was the best of the best in 1988, but a World Series win in ’89 was his pinnacle.

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Terry Steinbach gets congratulations from Oakland teammate Geronimo Berroa at the plate after a grand slam home run in the top of the 9th inning.

Photo: RITA REED, STAR TRIBUNE

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Twins bench coach and catching instructor Terry Steinbach is the lone Minnesotan to win the All-Star Game MVP award.

Steinbach said that while his biggest accomplishment in baseball was winning a World Series in 1989 with the Oakland Athletics, being named the 1988 All-Star Game MVP isn’t far behind. The 2014 game is at Target Field on Tuesday night.

“Well, it was obviously very important,” said Steinbach, a New Ulm native who was an assistant coach for Wayzata High School for five years after retiring. “I think winning the World Series is really a team effort and that takes the whole year to accomplish that. The All-Star Game is really a one-night special moment, very, very exciting, a lot of fun and a lot of great players getting thrown together. It was very memorable personally for me to get MVP of that. But I think winning the World Series is most important.”

Steinbach won the MVP by helping the American League to a 2-1 victory at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. The biggest moment came when Steinbach homered off National League starter Dwight Gooden in the third inning. He also drove in the AL’s other run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. He is the only person to have hit a home run in both his first at-bat in the major leagues and first at-bat in an All-Star Game.

Steinbach was in the AL starting lineup with fellow Minnesotans Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor in 1988, but he said he played with many big stars in three All-Star appearances (1988, ’89 and ’93).

“We had [Kirby] Puckett and Frankie Viola was throwing, Randy Johnson was on some of those teams, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, the list goes on and on,” he said. “It was an honor for me to be in the locker room with those guys, and it was really fun once the game started and you’re part of those All-Stars.”

Steinbach went 3-for-6 with one double, one home run and three RBI in those three All-Star Games.

He said players in that era were more inclined to leave quickly following their appearance in the game. He thinks camaraderie is higher now.

“When I played in the games, a lot of guys would play their three or four innings and they had a cab waiting as soon as the game was over. They showered, cabbed, airplane, gone,” he said. “You never really got to see anybody after the game. But now from what people told me, the importance of the All-Star Game [with the winning team getting home-field advantage in the World Series], most of the players stick around to see the finale of the game.

“I think it’s different and better [now],” he added. “I think there’s a lot more stuff that the players do, a lot more stuff for the fans. From the home run hitting contest, the Legends game, the Futures game, then the actual All-Star Game itself, I think it gives the fans a lot of variety and a lot of stuff to see.”

Steinbach was asked if he felt like a hero following his great All-Star Game performance.

“Well, define hero?” he asked. “It was good to go to New Ulm because the people thought it was pretty cool that a local guy not only made it to the All-Star Game but was MVP.”

Gardenhire selected

I found Ron Gardenhire really excited last week after getting a phone call from American League All-Star manager John Farrell of the Red Sox, inviting the Twins manager to be a coach in the All-Star Game.

“It’s home, our ballpark, being part of it is really special for our fans, this whole area,” Gardenhire said. “I’m looking forward to being on the bench there and watching the ballgame.”

He said he has been an All-Star coach three times. He also allowed former Twins coach Wayne Terwilliger to substitute for him on another occasion.

“It’s a lot of fun, and fun to be around these guys,” Gardenhire said.

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  • Oakland A's Terry Steinbach holds his Most Valuable Player trophy after being selected as the top player in the All-Star game in Cincinnati, in this July 13, 1988 photo.

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