I find his tale fascinating, because he came so close to baseball stardom at the highest level, only to have it come crashing down with one pitch. And yet, he’s completely okay with the entire experience. Stefan is a really smart, very honest and extremely likable individual.
On his arrival in the Big Apple: “The taxi pulled up to Yankee stadium and I couldn’t believe how awesome the place looked. As I walked through the players’ entrance, a bunch of fans were waiting around, and they yelled out my name and some of my stats in Double-A. I was surprised that they could be that knowledgeable about a player who had never played in the Bigs. Then when I entered the locker room, it was pretty surreal. The first person I met was Pete Sheehy, the legendary Yankees clubhouse guy. I figured, I’m some kid from Double-A, I’ll probably get some locker in the corner with number 99 or something. But my locker was in the middle of the room and they gave me number 25, which was Tommy John’s old number. I looked to my right and there was Dave Winfield. I looked to my left and there was Goose Gossage. What more could a rookie ask for? The guys were great and really made me feel at home. Ron Guidry came up to me and said, ‘Welcome to the New York Yankees.’ Dave Winfield took me aside and started telling me about all of the high-end men’s clothing stores in the big cities in the American League.
On his one and only MLB start: “It was my sixth day in the majors and we were in Milwaukee playing the Brewers. They called them ‘Harvey’s Wallbangers’ back then, because Harvey Kuenn was their manager and they had a great lineup. They were on their way to the World Series that season. It had rained during the day and the mound at County Stadium was muddy. The first two guys I faced that day are now in the Hall of Fame—Paul Molitor and Robin Yount. I don’t know if that’s a record or not. Well, Molitor hit a six-hopper through the right side for a single and Yount hit a double, scoring Molitor. The next batter was Cecil Cooper and I threw him a really good changeup, but he hit it to centerfield, where Jerry Mumphrey misplayed it. That should have been the first out. Ted Simmons was up next and he hit a ground ball through our shortstop’s (Andre Robertson) legs. That should have been the second out. The next batter was Gorman Thomas and he hit it a mile—a 3-run homer. That’s when I felt a twinge in my shoulder. But, hell if I was coming out. I kept pitching and they kept hitting, and by the time they took me out I had pitched 2 2/3 innings, gave up six hits, nine runs (eight earned), walked three, struck out two, gave up one HR and threw three wild pitches. We lost, 14-0. It just wasn’t a good game for us. But I had no idea it was my last game.”