OAKLAND -- Terry Steinbach broke into the big leagues with the A's on Sept. 12, 1986, and clubbed a home run against Cleveland in his first career at-bat.
Two years later, in his first career All-Star Game at-bat, Steinbach homered again on the way to being named MVP in the American League's 2-1 victory.
Now the longtime member of the Athletics is on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, and while few expect him to hit another home run and earn induction out of a class that includes first-time candidate Wade Boggs, Bert Blyleven, Ryne Sandberg and relief legends Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage and Lee Smith, Steinbach was clearly one of the top catchers of his day.
"Steiny was a real pro," says A's general manager Billy Beane, who was a teammate of Steinbach's on the 1989 Oakland team that swept the Giants in the World Series. "And everyone in the game knew how good he was, but he probably never really got as much recognition as he deserved because of all the stars he played with."
That 1989 team -- the A's went to the World Series in 1988 and 1990, too -- was stacked with star talent, from closer Dennis Eckersley, who was inducted into the Hall last summer, to certain future Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Mark McGwire. Ace Dave Stewart, who was the MVP of the 1989 Fall Classic, slugging outfielder Jose Canseco and hot-hitting Carney Lansford were in the mix, too, as were stylish center fielder Dave Henderson and 1990 AL Cy Young winner Bob Welch.
Teams: A's, Twins
Key stats: .271 career BA, 745 RBIs
Awards: 1988 All-Star Game MVP
Best HOF vote Pct.: First year on the ballot
Peers in Hall: Dennis Eckersley
More stats and bio >
It was the flashy "Bash Brothers" era in Oakland, and Steinbach was anything but flashy.
"He was a classic Midwestern guy," Beane says of the New Ulm, Minn., native. "He was just a rock. Very durable, very reliable, great guy in the clubhouse. He just did his job and let the attention go elsewhere.
"I'd say he was always one of the best catchers in the game while he was playing but never the best in the game, and that was kind of in keeping with his time in Oakland, too."
Steinbach, who ranks among the top 10 in Oakland history in games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, total bases, extra-base hits and batting average, was the A's Opening Day starter a record nine times in 11 seasons with the club. He finished his career with three typically solid seasons with his hometown Twins.
A three-time All-Star, Steinbach retired after the 1999 season with a career batting average of .271 with 162 home runs and 745 RBIs. He still lives in Minnesota, where most of his time is spent with family.
"Terry probably could have played longer than he did, but I think he was one of those guys who just came to the realization that it was time to go home," Beane says. "He's a big-time family guy, and that's the kind of teammate he was, too."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.