There were two Steve Ontiveros’. Actually I am sure there have been many, but two played baseball at a very high level. And when one stopped playing the other continued, frankly I didn’t know there were two of them.
One Steve Ontiveros pitched for the A’s in two different stints and wound up leading the league in ERA. Evidently he played briefly for the 2000 Red Sox. I have no memory of that.
That was not this Steve Ontiveros. The Steve Ontiveros who wound up in my box of Frosted Flakes was an infielder.
The Bakersfield California native was a 6th round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1969. And as the old guard of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry were leaving, the Giants were developing a whole new slate of terrific players.
Ontiveros looked like the third baseman of the future. In 1973, Ontiveros lit up AAA Phoenix. He batted .357 with an eye popping 1.030 OPS, 0 homers and 16 triples as well that year and earned the title Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year.
He played well in his initial few years with the Giants but regressed. By the time 1976 came around, he was 24 years old but looked washed up with injuries and a season long slump/
The Giants threw him into the trade that sent Bill Madlock to the Giants and Bobby Murcer was sent packing to Wrigley.
Ontiveros made the best of the change of scenery by having the best season of his career.
On May 10th, in a game against the Astros, he drove in 4 runs by himself. 7 days later on May 17th, he matched the 4 run batted total as the Cubs romped to a 23- 6 victory.
Ontiveros played in a career high 156 games at season. He would post career highs in virtually every category, earning the 3-D Kellogg’s Treatment.
Injuries kept him to just 82 games in 1978 but he played a full year again the next season. But he got hurt throughout the 1980 campaign and he never returned to the majors.
He disappeared from my consciousness as he went to Japan to keep playing keeo playing.
Right around the time he was going to Japan, the A’s promoted a young player named Steve Ontiveros. I remember thinking “He must have reinvented himself as a pitcher.”
The world is evidently big enough for two Steve Ontiveroses.