Steve Jeltz Was Born in France

ALSO: DAN SCHLOSSBERG'S ALL-STAR GAME MEMORIES

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Pregame Pepper

Did You Know?

The youngest player to homer in an All-Star Game was Johnny Bench, at 21 in 1969 . . .

Five men who had a multi-homer All-Star Game: Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Arky Vaughan, Al Rosen, and Gary Carter . . .

Fred Lynn hit the only All-Star grand-slam (1983) and Ichiro Suzuki hit the only inside-the-park shot (2007) . . .

The last man to lead off an All-Star Game with a home run was Mike Trout in 2015 . . .

Stan Musial hit the most home runs in All-Star play (6), two more than Ted Williams and Fred Lynn.

Leading Off

Steve Jeltz Owns Many Marks For Ballplayers Born in France

By Jason Love

Steve Jeltz made his Major League Baseball debut on July 17, 1983 for the Philadelphia Phillies. He played the bulk of his career at shortstop with the Phillies buthis last MLB season was with the Kansas City Royals in 1990.

What is notable about a .210 career hitter who retired with a total of five home runs? Jeltz, who was born in Paris in 1959, is the MLB leader in several all-time offensive categories for players born in France, including most hits in baseball for a player born in France, most walks, most runs, most doubles, and most triples.

Jeltz retired with a total of 367 hits over the course of eight seasons. In second place and born in Landes De Bussac is Bruce Bochy with 192 hits.

Bochy, though, is the leader in home runs by French-born players with 26. Bochy had more success as manager of the San Francisco Giants by winning three World Series Championships.

Fewer than 10 MLB players have been born in France. Outside of Jeltz and Bochy, other notables included Paul Krichell, Charlie Lea, and Duke Markell.

Besides France, MLB players have come from several other European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.

Baseball truly is an international sport. On 2021 Opening Day MLB rosters, more than 250 players were born outside the United States. As of this writing, the best of them is Japanese-born Shohei Ohtani, the first two-way All-Star in baseball history.

Besides leading French-born players in hits, Jeltz is mostly remembered for one other notable performance. In a game at Veterans Stadium on June 8, 1989, Jeltz hit two home runs (one from each side of the plate) against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After the Pirates put up 10 runs in the top of the first inning. Pittsburgh broadcaster Jim Rooker confidently announced that he would walk home if the Pirates lost the game. He should have been more careful with his words.

The Phillies ended up winning the game, 15–11, with Jeltz leading the way. After the season, Rooker made good on his promise and walked the 327 miles from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. He was a good sport about it and turned the walk into a fundraiser. “Rook’s Unintentional Walk” brought in thousands of dollars for various Pittsburgh charities. 

Jeltz’s last year of professional baseball was in 1991. He played AAA minor league baseball in Rochester and Syracuse. After retiring from the game, Jeltz lived in Colorado for a short while before moving back to Kansas for several years and working in construction. He currently lives in Central Pennsylvania and assists the Keystone Nationals Select Baseball near his home.

Jeltz offers private lessons for hitting, fielding, and taking the proper mental approach to the game of baseball. 

Baseball may be an international game but it is also close to home. About a year ago, my son Ian and I had a chance to meet Steve Jeltz at an appearance at Carl’s Cards in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Jeltz was friendly, down to earth, and happy to talk a little baseball. I was able to get a photo of Ian and Jeltz before we left.

Upon leaving the store, I told my son, “Jeltz may have been born in Paris, but he ended up playing professional baseball in Philadelphia.”

Jason Love is the author of Slices of Americana: A Road Trip Through American Baseball History with Sunbury Press. You can find him on Twitter @jason_love1. 

Cleaning Up

My All-Star Game Memories

By Dan Schlossberg

You know you’re getting old when you can say that you covered your first All-Star Game before many contributors to Here’s The Pitch were born.

I was there in 1972, when Hank Aaron’s home run in front of his hometown fans in Atlanta was the first he ever hit in All-Star play.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman, the reigning Most Valuable Player in the National League, is the NL’s starting first baseman for the 2021 game at Coors Field. Credit: Dan Schlossberg

I was at the 50th anniversary All-Star Game in 1983, when Chicago’s Comiskey Park was still Comiskey Park and Fred Lynn hit the first and only grand-slam in All-Star history.

I was there in 1998, when the two leagues combined for 21 runs, an All-Star record not surprising for a game played at Coors Field in Denver, the Mile-High City.

I was there in 1999, when Ted Williams was treated like visiting royalty by the players on the field at Fenway Park and was named to the Baseball Centennial team unveiled during the Boston event.

And I was there in 2007 to see Ichiro Suzuki hit the only inside-the-park home run in the history of the All-Star Game.

I was waiting in line at the press gate in St. Louis in 2009 when we were held up by someone named Barack Obama, a president with an obvious love of the game.

I watched in Washington in 2018 as the All-Star Game became a real-life Home Run Derby, with a record 10 different players hit home runs. That has never happened in any other game, not even at Coors Field.

I still own a black jacket purchased at the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto, a rolling bag given to the media during the weather-hampered 2002 game at what was then called Miller Park in Milwaukee, and a hat acquired at the 2000 game in Atlanta (yes, they used to hold All-Star Games in Georgia).

I had a great time at the Cincinnati Zoo, site of the gala held the night before the 1988 All-Star Game, and at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, where the event was staged the night before the Cleveland game in 2019.

Last year, the pandemic claimed most of spring training, the season, the All-Star Game, and the Hall of Fame inductions. But we’re back on track now and I plan to enjoy it.

As an extra added attraction, I’ll be part of a baseball author’s panel at 5 p.m. MST on Sunday, July 11, at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver. And I’ll be at the Play Ball event in the convention center, even though it won’t probably compare to the FanFest of previous years.

Covering the All-Star Game is both business and pleasure — a chance to see baseball friends from other cities whose paths cross with mine only at events like the playoffs, the Baseball Winter Meetings or the Cooperstown inductions. Even in spring training, half the teams play in Florida and the other half in Arizona.

I am grateful to the editors who secured media credentials on my behalf over the years and to Major League Baseball for providing them. I am also grateful to readers whom I hope enjoyed my work.

At age 73, there’s no reason to contemplate retirement or to reduce my workload. After all, it keeps me young.

New Jersey-based Dan Schlossberg is weekend editor of Here’s The Pitch and baseball writer for forbes.com, Latino Sports, Sports Collectors Digest, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and Ball Nine. He is also the author of 38 baseball books and a frequent speaker and broadcast guest. Dan’s e.mail is ballauthor@gmail.com.

Timeless Trivia

The best-attended All-Star Game (72,086) was the 1981 contest, held August 9 at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. It was the first game played after a seven-week player strike . . .

Six other All-Star Games, two of them in Cleveland, also drew crowds of more than 60,000 . . .

Five players who were All-Star MVPs twice: Willie Mays, Steve Garvey, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken Jr., and Mike Trout . . .

Brooks Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski were MVPs of All-Star Games their league lost . . .

The Griffeys — Senior and Junior — were All-Star Game MVPs 12 years apart . . .

Fans picked Davey Lopes and Reggie Jackson as starters even though both had batting averages below .200 at the time of the game . . .

Only one All-Star Game — 1969 in Washington — has been postponed by rain. It was played the next day.


Know Your Editors

HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [bchrom831@gmail.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [nymfan97@gmail.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [ballauthor@gmail.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.

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