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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Earl Steinmetz, Independent Attention - 22

Originally published Oct. 23, 2010
Pitcher Earl Steinmetz had just been taken out of the game in the seventh and he was upset. He wasn't upset that he was taken out so much, he was still apparently upset over a call made by the home plate umpire the inning before.

Steinmetz showed his displeasure by confronting the umpire head-on. He also slammed the umpire to the ground, according to the account published in The Norwalk Hour.

This was June 1998 and Steinmetz was in independent ball, playing for the Atlantic League's Newburgh Black Diamonds. He was ejected from the game. He would also swiftly be banned from the Atlantic League for life.

It was in independent ball that Steinmetz sometimes got the most attention, not all good. It was independent ball that Steinmetz turned to after five seasons in affiliated ball, later briefly reaching AA. But he wouldn't reach the majors.

Steinmetz started off in the Braves system, taken by Atlanta in the 26th round of the 1989 draft out of Judson High in Converse, Texas.

He played that year at the Braves' rookie team in the Gulf Coast League. The right-hander went 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 10 appearances.

Steinmetz made single-A Sumter for 1990 and had arguably his most successful campaign. He went 11-8 as a starter with a 3.42 ERA. He also struck out 105.

Steinmetz gave up three early runs in an April 7.1-inning outing, also striking out seven. In July, Steinmetz threw six shutout innings for his ninth win. He threw seven innings in a June game for Sumter, giving up three runs and getting a win, according to The Sumter Item.

He hit high-A Durham for 1991 going just 3-7 with a 4.00 ERA. He remained with the Braves' system into 1993, when he became a Brewer. At Milwaukee's high-A Stockton, Steinmetz appeared in 28 games with a 3.92 mark.

Then Steinmetz' time in independent ball began. In 1994, Steinmetz split time between San Antonio of the Texas-Louisiana League and Lafayette, Indiana of the Great Central League.

With Lafayette, Steinmetz appeared to flash brilliance, striking out 23 Mason City batters. The outing even made it onto ESPN, according to an interview with a broadcaster years later.

What was less known, however, was that Mason City's regular players had quit after not getting paid, the batters he struck out were little more than "local farmers," broadcaster Mike Curto recalled to in 2002.

In 1995, Steinmetz tried a return through replacement ball, appearing in one early March game and giving up six runs in two innings, according to an Associated Press account.

Later that year, Steinmetz was with the Abilene Prairie Dogs, back in the Texas-Louisiana League. Steinmetz beaned a batter for the opposing Lubbock Crickets, touching off a brawl. It was a beanball that Steinmetz was ordered to throw, his manager admitted later, according to a wire account.

Several players were ejected, but that wasn't what caught the media's attention. It was the Lubbock mascot, who was also tossed.

Steinmetz was credited with playing in parts of three more seasons, making brief appearances, making brief showings in the Houston, Baltimore and Atlanta systems. He returned to the Atlanta system for 1999, the year after his incident with the umpire.

With Baltimore and Atlanta, Steinmetz got a total of seven games at AA. It was the highest he'd been and the highest he would get. His year in 1999 was his last.

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