Kremer fulfilling destiny for WorthingtonWORTHINGTON — Steven Kremer didn’t have a choice. Beginning when he was about 5 years old, Kremer was forced to be a catcher and trained to be a left-handed hitter. At the fields and at his home in Wilmont, he was shaped and raised to be a baseball player. Kremer didn’t fight it, and he never complained. He simply accepted it for what it was: his destiny.
By: Matt Huss, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Steven Kremer didn’t have a choice.
Beginning when he was about 5 years old, Kremer was forced to be a catcher and trained to be a left-handed hitter. At the fields and at his home in Wilmont, he was shaped and raised to be a baseball player.
Kremer didn’t fight it, and he never complained. He simply accepted it for what it was: his destiny.
Now, nearly 12 years later, Kremer is flourishing on the field and becoming a dominating offensive and defensive force. As the Worthington VFW baseball team’s starting catcher, Kremer handled a pitching staff that finished the regular season with a 3.63 ERA. As a pitcher, he recorded 20 strikeouts and compiled a team-best 1.84 ERA in 19 innings. As the cleanup hitter, he led Worthington in hits (42), doubles (12), RBIs (50), total bases (60), slugging percentage (.652), batting average (.457) and on-base percentage (.540).
Worthington, the No. 1 seed out of the Southern Division, will face second-seeded Tracy at 11 a.m. today in the District 3 VFW Final Four playoffs in Granite Falls. As has been the case since he was 5 years old, Kremer is expected to play catcher.
Growing up in Wilmont, Kremer gained a love for baseball through his older brother, Andrew. As a result of Andrew’s desire to be a successful pitcher and his willingness to practice nearly every day, Steven often found himself squatting in a catcher’s position, waiting for his older brother’s next delivery.
“Andrew’s position was pitcher, and with me being younger and not having a choice, I’d have to be the catcher when we’d go to the diamond,” Steven said. “Back then I really didn’t know, but I guess I grew into being a catcher. It’s the only position I know.”
In learning the position, Steven had to take his lumps – literally.
Using a regular glove, and without any catcher’s gear, Steven often was put in a tough situation: either block the pitches in the dirt without the help of a chest protector or chase down the balls that get away.
“He didn’t have much of a choice. Andrew was a pitcher, so he grabbed Steven and said, ‘You’re going to catch for me,’ so that was always his job,” Steven’s mom, Roxanne Kremer, said. “But I shuddered when he was little; we didn’t have any protective gear for him to wear. They were out playing catch, and I never really realized until down the line how dangerous it could be.”
What Roxanne did realize, however, was how dangerous Steven could be in the future as a left-handed hitter.
“From the first time I picked up a bat, my mom was always fixing my hands and making me be a lefty,” Steven said. “That’s how it happened. There are pictures, but I can’t even remember it.”
Whether it was the result of being the youngest child in a baseball-crazed family or the outcome of some divine plan, Steven has blossomed into one of the best young players in the area.
In his first year on Worthington High School’s varsity baseball team last spring, Steven was named all-Southwest Conference as a sophomore. He’s carried that success and some extra confidence into the summer season.
“High school ball really helped because I faced a lot of good pitchers on varsity,” Steven said. “Then, coming to VFW ball, I’ve definitely faced some good pitchers, but just the confidence factor going up to the plate has really helped me.”
That is, if the confidence carries into the second at-bat.
“I have a terrible superstition: If I get a hit in my first at-bat, I know it’s going to be a good day,” he said. “But, if I don’t, I’m worrying. If I don’t get a hit in my second at-bat, then I’m thinking, ‘Uh-oh, hit the panic button.’”
Because of his seemingly effortless left-handed swing, Steven hasn’t hit the panic button much this season. He has an uncanny ability to wait on pitches and drive them to the opposite field. In the playoffs, he’s 3-for-7 with three RBIs, and all three hits went the opposite way.
“When he’s swinging hard and trying to pull the ball, that’s when he gets in trouble,” Worthington coach Ryan Weber said. “I stress it to him — and he hears it from me all the time — to just go with the pitch. That’s when he’s deadly.”
Then there are the intangibles.
“He’s a pretty laid-back kid, but he’s intense,” Weber said. “He wants to win, he wants to win all the time, and he’s going to make sure his teammates want it, too.
“He’s a coach’s dream.”
Now Steven is living a dream — one he developed during games of catch and home run contests with Andrew.
“I probably wouldn’t even know what baseball was if it wasn’t for (Andrew),” Steven said. “I have to give him a lot of credit.”
Steven Kremer never had a choice. But he never wanted one.
“I have pictures of him when he was so little squatting down and catching,” Roxanne said. “It was his destiny.”