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Steve Yeager Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

STEVE YEAGER
Born: November 24, 1948 in Huntington, West Virginia
Player Career
Bat: Right Throw: Right Height: 6' 0" Weight: 190
First Game: August 2, 1972 ; Final Game: August 29, 1986
Awards and Achievements
Named World Series Most Valuable Player (1981)
Biography | show moreshow less
Steve Yeager This article was written by Michael Fallon and is presented in part, courtesy of the Society for American Baseball Research Ever since the award was established in 1955, there have been two types of World Series MVPs. On the one hand, there are the guys you'd expect to win the trophy: baseball superstars and future Hall of Famers like Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente, Mike Schmidt, and Johnny Bench, who simply do in the Series what they did over the course of their careers. On the other hand, there are the Bucky Dents, David Ecksteins, Pat Borderses, and Bobby Richardsons—surprise winners who, over the course of four to seven games, momentarily overshadow their better- known teammates by outplaying themselves. And then there is Steve Yeager. A co-winner—along with Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero—of the 1981 World Series MVP Award, Yeager was one of the most unlikely winners ever. At the same time, his win was a perfect distillation of all that was wonderful over the embattled catcher's 15-year career.Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1967 as an 18-year-old out of Meadow Dale High School in Dayton, Ohio, Stephen Wayne Yeager (born on November 24, 1948, in Huntington, West Virginia) became part of the franchise's great youth movement of the late 1960s. For a stretch of four or five years, Yeager moved through the farm system alongside teammates like Ron Cey, Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Joe Ferguson, and Davey Lopes from the Dodgers' famed 1968 draft class. As a sign of the type of player he would become, in 1969, while playing with the Dodgers' Class A team in Bakersfield in June, Yeager suffered a fractured leg in a first-inning collision at home plate with a baserunner. Unaware of the nature of the injury, he finished the game.i It was the first of many injuries that would add to Yeager's reputation for toughness and solid defensive skills at the catcher position. It was also the first of many injuries that would cut into his playing time and allowed other players to leapfrog over him in the Dodgers' system.Over his career, Yeager was fortunate to possess as much perseverance as he did toughness. After managing to play only 23 games while batting just .151 in 1969, he returned in 1970 and slowly emerged out of a reserve role. On May 21, after going hitless in his first five at-bats as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers' Double-A team in Albuquerque, Yeager smacked a grand slam to lead the team to an 8-5 victory over Dallas-Fort Worth. He wound up hitting .278. Yeager returned to the team in 1971 and was named to the Texas League All Star team. By 1972, the Dodgers, who were carefully managing the major-league emergence of a large crop of developing players, had a particularly complex situation at the catcher position. Before the start of the season, the team considered a corps of backstops that included veterans Duke Sims and Chris Cannizzaro and highly regarded minor leaguers Joe Ferguson, Bill Sudakis, Terry McDermott, and Yeager. No doubt seeking to protect the development of its young catchers, the team signed yet another veteran, Dick Dietz, off waivers in April. Yeager, who had made an impressive showing with his defensive abilities during spring training and won the writers' Dearie Mulvey Memorial Trophy as the best rookie of the spring, was on the plane to Los Angeles, having been told he made the team, when news came of the Dietz signing. He was forthwith optioned to Albuquerque, a move that turned out to be a crucial moment in his career. There Yeager connected with manager Tom Lasorda, who had been moving up through the Dodger system along with the 1968 draft class. Lasorda and the Dodgers recognized in Yeager several traits they considered important to major-league success: his toughness and desire to succeed, as well as a hunger to play. "We'd like every one of our players to have the fire, the determination—and the all-round hustle that Steve has," said Bill Schweppe, the Dodgers' farm director, who was a chief architect of the 1968 draft. Tom Lasorda said Yeager was in the same league with Johnny Bench. "You won't beat that arm of his," Lasorda said in 1972. "You can't ask anything of a catcher that Yeager can't do," said Monty Basgall, who had been Yeager's manager at the Double-A level in 1971. "He did a tremendous job in developing our young pitchers." Yeager said his improving skills behind the plate had to do with learning the mental side of the game. "The mental part is important," he said. "You've got to work a pitcher so that the best pitch he has going on a particular day will be used effectively to get the batter out. ... Setting up the hitter is as important as throwing a man out trying to steal."ii
Film Credits | show moreshow less

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