Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb admits his reputation for being a hot-head during his MLB career was not unwarranted.
After starting in baseball as an outfielder, Stieb was converted into a pitcher at Southern Illinois University and soon came to the attention of Blue Jays scouts.
His strong arm and eye for accuracy marked him down as a star of the future, although Stieb was initially unconvinced that he would be a pitcher in the long term.
In a recent interview with Betway Insider, he confessed to struggling to get to grips with the role, particularly during his early years in Toronto.
“The transition took time and I never fell in love with it, but I had no choice, that was my career now,” he said.
“Obviously it was great when I was winning and I loved being an All-Star but, man, when we lost it was tough.
“For me, with the kind of make-up I had, it was hard to sit on that loss for four days and wait to redeem myself. So, it was a love-hate relationship.”
Stieb’s fiercely competitive nature was not unusual for an MLB star, although the additional pressure of pitching ramped things up where he was concerned.
He soon developed a reputation for being a hot-head on the field, something he says was unavoidable due to his desire to win every game.
“I was an intense competitor – I wanted to be the best,” he added. “When I approached a start, my attitude was that I have to win.
“There’s no losing. There’s no doing bad. I’ve got to perform because that’s my little window of opportunity to play on that field.”
Stieb’s intense nature often resulted in fall-outs with his teammates, with many of them failing to match-up to the standards he set.
However, while Stieb acknowledged that his antics sometimes overstepped the mark, he says he was unable to change his personality.
He even received advice from one of his baseball heroes, but could not make the adjustment to his temperament over a sustained period.
“I remember my idol, Reggie Jackson, pulling me aside one time when we were playing the (Los Angeles) Angels,” Stieb said.
“He said: ‘Hey, I gotta tell you, you can’t be out there showing that emotion. That gives the other team an edge’.
“But that’s just how I was. I don’t think it gave anybody an edge. I did that stuff to get more out of myself.
“I’d be mumbling and yelling at myself, but I didn’t care what anyone else thought, because that’s what motivated me.
“I was venting. I was getting it out of my system, so I could move on from whatever bad thing just took place.
“He tried to give me that advice, and I tried to pitch like that for a while. I don’t know how long I gave it, but bottling that stuff up didn’t work for me. I’ve got to be me.”