This past April, I wrote a piece called “Fifty Years Ago Today Tigers Made Their Greatest Trade Ever” about the deal that sent Steve Demeter to Cleveland for Norm Cash.
Storm’n Norman of course went on to win the ’61 American League batting title and became a fan favorite at Tiger Stadium for 15 seasons.
In my second sentence I wrote, “Steve who?”
After all, most Tiger fans have never heard of Steve Demeter, and if they did, it is probably as an answer to a trivia question. He played in parts of just two major league seasons, ’59 and ’60, and had a career batting average of .087 in 23 at bats.
However just the other day, in response to my article, a warm and heartfelt comment was posted on this website by Catherine Demeter Dietrich, Steve’s daughter.
I want to share with you some of the information Catherine shared about her pop.
Because as it turns out, Steve Demeter, despite an undistinguished major league playing career, not only became quite successful in baseball, he also has been blessed off the field, unlike Norm Cash who drowned after a night of drinking at age 51 in 1986.
This January 27th, Steve Demeter will be celebrating his 76th birthday with his wife Joanne who he has been married to for 50 plus years.
Steve Demeter had in fact a remarkable playing career in the minor leagues.
In 19 seasons, (with 14 of them in AAA), he compiled a lifetime batting average of .290 with 2455 hits, was an All-Star eight times, and won two silver gloves.
Demeter turned down a full academic scholarship to Notre Dame to sign as a 17-year-old with Detroit. At age 19 he lead the league in Durham with a .307 average and 111 RBIs and is considered “One of the 10 Best Durham Bulls in history.” In 2009, Demeter was inducted into the International Baseball Hall of Fame.
Catherine noted that when her Dad was traded to Cleveland, the manager had been upset with the trade and never gave him the opportunity to show what he could do. The third baseman later was stuck in AAA with the Orioles organization because Baltimore had future Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.
After his playing career ended in 1972, Demeter spent over 30 years in the Pirates organization as a coach, manager, and scout. In 1985 he returned to the majors as a coach for his longtime friend, Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner.
Now retired, Demeter enjoys watching his grandson Derek Dietrich play ball in the Tampa Bay organization. The former Georgia Tech star shortstop and a member of Team USA was mentored by his Grandpa from a very young age. Derek tattooed “Let It Fly” and his grandfather’s initials on his wrist prior to the 2010 baseball season.
Catherine wrote in part: “My dad is the most outstanding, wonderful father and man I have ever known and he still lives, loves, and laughs and has made a big difference in the world. Ask anyone who knows him! I thought you should know what happened to Steve Who!”
Now that is cool.