Saturday, October 25, 2014

Steve Kiefer, Everything Hit - 379

Originally published Oct. 18, 2012
Steve Kiefer was out trying to relax in spring 1988. What he ended up with was a night in the hospital, assaulted by a fellow bar-goer in what was later called a case of mistaken identity.

For Kiefer, though, the attack from behind with the beer bottle not only threatened his attempt to make the Brewers, it also threatened his life, The Milwaukee Journal wrote.

"Just a little bit deeper and it would have cut an artery, the doctor said," Kiefer told The Journal. "I'm lucky to be alive."

Kiefer ended up making the Brewers that year, but for only seven games. He would play in just one more big league season, a series of injuries and calamities conspiring to limit Kiefer's remaining big league time to a handfull of games.

Kiefer's career began in 1981, taken by the Athletics in the first round of the January draft, out of Fullerton College.

Kiefer started at short-season Medford, making AA Albany in 1983 then AAA Tacoma in 1984. Kiefer also made Oakland in 1984.

Called up in September 1984, Kiefer got into 23 games, hitting .175. He knocked in two and stole two bases. In his first major league at bat, though, Kiefer tripled.

Kiefer returned to the Athletics for 40 games in 1985, hitting .197 with a home run. Kiefer, though, didn't seem to be going anywhere with Oakland. Kiefer asked for a trade. Traded to the Brewers, Kiefer appeared to improve his hitting at AAA Vancouver, The Vancouver Sun wrote.

"I'd never hit over .300 before," Kiefer told The Sun in May 1986. "But I've changed my stance and I'm trying to hit the ball more to right field."

Kiefer didn't hit .300 that year at Vancouver, but the next year, at AAA Denver, he hit .330. In the majors, Kiefer got into two games with the Brewers in 1986, then 28 in 1987.

In August 1987, Kiefer was platooning at third in Milwaukee, but the guy he was platooning with, Ernest Riles, ended up playing well enough to take over, The Journal wrote.

By 1989, Kiefer was with the Yankees system, at AAA Columbus. He'd played in just seven games with the Brewers in 1988. But the bar attack in spring 1988 started the string of calamities. That summer, Kiefer's wife suffered the worst of all, a miscarriage, The Los Angeles Times wrote.

Then, in 1989, Kiefer suffered injuries in spring training and on a June triple. He did come back to get into five games in the majors with the Yankees in August, but they were his last of his six seasons with time in the bigs.

"I was looking to be called up (to the Yankees)," Kiefer told The Times in July of his hopes that year. "It seemed like everything hit when I got to the major leagues to stay. I never had anything that kept me out more than a week."

Kiefer continued playing one more season, playing between the Pirates and Mets AAA teams, ending his career. Along the way, though, Kiefer was able to give advice to his brother Mark Kiefer, helping Mark play in four major league seasons of his own.

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