Terry Steinbach Wasn’t Supposed to be a Part of his Two Most Memorable Games

It’s not uncommon for a player to be know for the performance of a single game or two. Bill Buckner cannot be brought to mind without a certain 1986 World Series Game. Joe Carter is remembered for a totally different World Series ending in 1993. Oakland A’s catcher Terry Steinbach was part of three consecutive World Series teams from 1988-1990, and it is a pair of games from this period that he is still remembered for.


Oakland fans were beginning to come alive in 1988, having recently witnessed the emergence of two consecutive Rookies of the Year and seen their team become a pennant contender. Terry Steinbach, another 1987 rookie, was quickly becoming a fan favorite as the team’s starting catcher. Fans were returning to the ballpark and partaking in the age-old tradition of being complete homers with their All-Star game ballots. Though Steinbach had started the season with an injury and was barely batting .200 with no power, fans still voted him as the starting catcher for the American League.

Those within baseball collectively rolled their eyes at the vote and some complained that he didn’t belong. Steinbach was clearly not playing as he had in the previous year. He would be facing Mets’ fireballer Doc Gooden, a pitcher with his own batting average only one point below Steinbach’s. So what happened? Steinbach hit a solo home run to left field. He came to bat the next inning with a sacrifice fly that drove in Dave Winfield. Both RBI’s ended up as the American League’s only offense and gave his team a 2-1 win. For his part, Steinbach earned the game’s MVP trophy and the task of calling his airline to obtain an extra seat for his three foot tall award.


Most write-ups of Steinbach’s career make it a point to talk about his All-Star Game redemption. While memorable, the image that many fans have of the Oakland catcher is one from a game in which he was resting on the bench. Oakland had already twice put away the San Francisco Giants in the best of four series by a cumulative score of 10-1. Steinbach, who typically played in 75% of the team’s games, was benched so he could rest. Moments before Game 3 was to start the Bay Area was hit by a 6.9 earthquake. San Francisco’s Candlestick Park visibly shook as players and fans alike reacted with surprise. Rarely has such a disaster unfolded in such a high profile manner. Already large television audiences grew as word of the quake spread. ABC’s coverage of the game became a live news broadcast with footage of players looking for their families interspersed with updates of local damage. One such shot stood out: A concerned Terry Steinbach and his visibly worried wife were shown sitting in the visitors’ dugout. The pair were shaken as their young children were at a sitters’ house without a way to make contact.

Steinbach can be seen at 2:55 in the above history of the ’89 World Series Quake.


This was one of the earlier refractors I acquired when I began work on the set. The quilted padding of Steinbach’s chest protector really works well with the blue and yellow lines radiating in the card’s background. The card was purchased raw from COMC from the same seller that provided my Ramon Martinez card. There weren’t any problems with condition, though, as this one looked NM-MT and came back with an identical assessment from PSA.