Born: May 8, 1948
Stephen Russell Braun was born May 8, 1948 in Trenton and grew up in Pennington. From an early age, he demonstrated remarkable hand-eye coordination. This served him well as a young golfer, but particularly as a baseball player. Steve played football, basketball and baseball for the Hopewell Valley Central High School Bulldogs.
Steve was drafted as a shortstop by the Minnesota Twins in the 10th round of the second-ever MLB draft, in June of 1966. He signed for $5,000 and spent the next decade in the Twins’ system, playing second and third base in the minor leagues and serving as a third baseman and outfielder after making the big-league club out of spring training in 1971.
Steve was a high-average left-handed hitter who was especially tough on righties. His best year as a regular was 1975, when he hit .302 with 11 homers. In 1976, Steve stole a career-high 12 bases and had his best RBI year with 61. In both seasons, he ranked among the Top 10 in the AL in on-base percentage. During his time with the Twins, he manned every position except pitcher and catcher.
The Twins had Larry Hisle, Dan Ford and Lyman Bostock in the outfielder in the mid-70s, which made Steve the odd man out. That was fine by Steve, who felt he was being underpaid. He asked to be exposed in the 1977 expansion draft and team obliged. He was selected by the Seattle Mariners. A patient hitter, Steve didn’t see too many strikes with the M’s. Hit drew 80 walks but batted just .235. Early in the 1978 season, Seattle traded him to the Kansas City Royals. He played a utility role for the Royals, who won the AL West. In his first postseason, Steve went hitless in two games against the Yankees.
After a brief stop in Toronto, Steve found a new home in the National League with the St. Louis Cardinals, joining the team as a free agent in 1981. The team signed him at the urging of Whitey Herzog, who had managed him in Kansas City.
Steve played his final five seasons with the Cards as a left-handed pinch-hitting specialist. St. Louis won two pennants during that time, and Steve earned a World Series ring in 1982, as the Cradinals defeated the Brewers in seven games. In Game 2 against Milwaukee, he drew a bases-loaded walk in the 8th inning against closer Pete Ladd that plated the winning run. In Game 7, he singled in the final run of the 6–3 clinching victory off Mike Caldwell.
Steve’s final game as a big leaguer was Game 7 of the 1985 World Series, which the Cardinals lost to his old team, the Royals, 11–0. He amassed 113 pinch-hits during his career, which ranked 7th all-time when he retired.
Steve worked as a batting coach for several years for the Cardinals, and then became a minor-league hitting instructor with the Red Sox and Yankees. He tutored Nomar Garciaparra and Robinson Cano. He opened a baseball school near his home in Lawrenceville, working indoors with hitters in the winter and running camps for kids in the summertime