Steve Korcheck passed away at the age of 84 from heart failure on August 26 in Bradenton, Florida. Stephen Joseph Korcheck was born August 11, 1932 in McClellandtown, Pennsylvania and was a celebrated high school athlete before going on to George Washington University where he played baseball and football and earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
Steve Korcheck never played for the Minnesota Twins so why you ask does he show up on a Twinstrivia.com web site? The Minnesota Twins didn’t exist yet and I never saw Steve Korcheck play baseball for the Senators but as a kid growing up in Taylors Falls, Minnesota I followed baseball and collected baseball cards. Back then Topps were the only baseball cards available and the local dime store sold the packs for a nickel each or six for a quarter. I didn’t have much money so I collected and returned empty pop bottles to finance my purchases.
One of the cards that I had was a 1959 Steve Korcheck card which I thought was a very cool looking card and that card caused me to follow Korcheck more closely. Korcheck wasn’t a very good hitter and the Washington Senators were a bad baseball team and my friends made fun of my like of Steve Korcheck. My baseball playing friends started yelling “you hit like Steve Korcheck” whenever a player made an out.
Five years later I was a senior in high school and in shop class I decided to make a baseball bat from scratch on a wood lathe. It took me some time since we only had 45 minutes or so in shop class daily but the bat turned out great. It was a beauty if I say so myself, a nice thin handle like I preferred and of course I had to have a name on the bat to make it look like the real thing so I stamped Steve Korcheck’s name on the barrel of the bat. A friend who played on the Taylors Falls High School baseball team asked me if he could use the bat and I was hesitant to loan it to him but he talked me into it. You can of course guess what happened, in his first at bat he hit a long foul fly ball and cracked the bat and my Steve Korcheck model bat was history. I did get an “A” on that shop project from the shop teacher who incidentally was also the baseball coach. I have never forgotten that experience or Steve Korcheck and later in life I started collecting some players autographs on their baseball cards and one of the autographs I have gotten was from Steve Korcheck who was kind enough to sign my card, write a short note, and enclose his business card as president of the State College of Florida. When I got the material back from Steve Korcheck I was amazed that this player and man that we had made so much fun of as kids had attained this status in life, President of a college and that he had earned a doctorate degree. This really made me think about what I had expected Steve Korcheck to be in real life versus the non-hitting catcher I saw as a child. Now days, in my late 60’s I play fantasy baseball and have for many years. One of my teams every year is called “Korcheck’s Bunch”, a reminder to myself that life is not all about baseball and that you might not be the best player in baseball but you can be great man in many other ways. Steve Korcheck was a teacher his entire life and he was All-Star but you won’t see it on his Baseball-Reference.com page.
After graduating from George Washington University in 1954 Korcheck signed as a free agent with the Washington Senators passing up an opportunity to play pro football with the San Francisco 49’ers who had selected the 6’1″ 205 pound Korcheck in the third round of the NFL draft as a center.
Korcheck made his big league debut on September 6, 1954 as the starting catcher in the second game of a double-header against the Philadelphia Athletics at Griffith Stadium. Korcheck who went by the nickname of “Hoss” ended up 0 for 3 and the Senators lost the game 3-2. Korcheck played in the major leagues briefly for the Washington Senators in 1954 and 1955 before serving his country in the Army in 1956-1957. After his military service was behind him, Korcheck resumed his baseball career appearing briefly in a Senators uniform in 1958 and 1959 but his hitting skills or lack there of kept him from earning a roster spot with Washington. Korcheck spent the entire 1960 season with the Washington Senators AAA farm team Charleston under manager Del Wilber and played with future Minnesota Twins like Bert Cueto, Jimmie Hall, Jim Kaat, Don Mincher, Ted Sadowski, Garland Shifflett, Sandy Valdespino and Zoilo Versalles before calling it a career and moving on with the rest of his life.
Thank you for the memories Steve Korcheck and may you rest in peace. Twinstrivia.com would like to pass on our condolences to the Korcheck family and friends. Steve Korcheck may be gone but he will never to be forgotten.