Steve Mesner, third base
Born: 1-13-18 Died: 4-6-81
Padres: 1940 In 1937, Steve Mesner was the Most Valuable Player for the Los Angeles Angels. He was the MVP for the Padres in 1940 and in 1946, he was voted the Most Valuable Solon for Sacramento. Mesner had a six-year career in the big leagues, but he loved playing in the Pacific Coast League. Steve was well liked by everybody who knew him. The following interview was conducted with his biggest fan, his wife, Charlene “Mom” Mesner.
[Steve Mesner] interview of Charlene Mesner by Bill Swank and Billy Swank, 2 March 1995, transcript notes.
Steve’s favorite story was that when he started in baseball, Bobby Doerr’s father bought him his first uniform and his own father burned it. Steve’s parents only believed in work, work, work. They didn’t believe in baseball. Well, the Angels had a tryout camp. Steve was only sixteen. Truck Hannah was the coach and Steve went up to bat. Hannah said, “Hey, kid, get out of here! You’re too little.” He started to go, but his old American Legion manager told him to go back. He hit three over the fence! So, they put him at shortstop and kept hitting them harder. He handled everything and they signed him to a contract and sent him to Ponca City [Oklahoma].
One time, Steve was spiked from his knee to his ankle. He had something that looked like a rain gutter strapped to his leg. He was sitting in his street clothes, but his team needed him to pinch hit. He went in the clubhouse, put on his uniform and hit a triple or home run to win the game.
We were up in Hollywood, at Gilmore Field, about five rows back, and Betty Grable came over and rubbed Steve’s head. He had a burr hair cut. Steffani, she was about three, went down and said, “Don’t rub my Daddy’s head.” When she came back to me, she said, “That sure was a pretty lady, Mommy.”
When the hotel lobby would be full, the players would light a teammate’s newspaper on fire. He’d run outside with the burning paper and they’d take his seat. They were grown men, but they’d laugh and think it was so funny.
Lou Novikoff was our friend. He loved to drink his beer. He’d bite the caps off with his teeth. He really was a Mad Russian!