Steve Jeltz: A Idol (Of sorts)

I also sponsor the Steve Jeltz page at Baseball-Reference.com. As I note in sponsorship message, I was there the day he hit home runs from both sides of the plate as the Phillies came back from a ten-run deficit to beat the Pirates, who scored those runs before the Phils even came to bat.

He’s almost certainly the most unlikely player to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in a single game, given that he had only five home runs in his whole career. (See the full list.)

Anyway, a childhood friend of Jeltz’s contacted me after seeing my sponsorship of his page and told the following stories (reprinted with permission):

Loved your sponsorship of the Steve Jeltz page. I grew up with Steve in Lawrence, Kansas, and was one of his good childhood friends. During my law school days at Kansas University, I put together a fall ball slow pitch team consisting mostly of fellow law students, and short of players towards the end of the season, asked Steve to ring for us (the major leaguge season had just ended, and Steve had recently returned to Lawrence). Of course, he played shortstop. His fielding was like a ballet peformance. But he went oh for four at the plate. OH FOR FOUR???. Slow pitch??? I asked an opposing player that game what he thought of my short stop. “Decent glove,” he responded. “Is that all you have to say,” I stated in mock disbelief. “He plays for the Philadelphia Phillies in the off season.” The guy laughed at me.

Asked after his 2 game against the Pirates if he had ever heard of Walter Mitty, the fictional character known for dreaming of performing amazing feats beyond his ability, Jeltz replied, “Nah, I’ve never heard of him. He’s before my time. Who’d he play for?”

I obviously never knew Jeltz personally, but that just fits my image of the man so well.