Steve Macko (TRADING CARD DB)

Steve Macko

This article was written by John Fredland

Steve Macko (TRADING CARD DB)Steve Macko died from cancer ten weeks after his 27th birthday, leaving behind a sparse record of 25 games over two seasons with the Chicago Cubs. But the cold cadences of baseball’s official ledger misrepresent his life’s true measure. Macko continued a distinguished family lineage in the game, spearheaded an improbable College World Series bid, emerged as a promising professional prospect, and inspired teammates and observers while facing fatal illness. “Steve was a small man in stature, but he made up for it with the size of his heart,” Cubs teammate Mike Krukow said after Macko’s death in 1981. “We’re better people because Steve Macko was one of us.”1

Steve Macko’s father, Joe Macko, was a minor-league slugger. Between 1948 and 1963, Joe hit 281 home runs for Indians, Reds, Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox affiliates. In 1949 he met Dorothy Kurtz while playing in her hometown of Burlington, Iowa. They got married three years later2 and remained together until her death in 2007.3 Joe and Dorothy had two daughters, Karen and Linda; and two sons, Steve and Mike.4 Steven Joseph Macko was born in his mother’s hometown on September 6, 1954, as Joe finished the Texas League season.

From his infancy, Steve Macko experienced professional baseball at his father’s side.5 Joe Macko played in Louisville in 1957. When the team invited fans on the field before a game for photographs, Steve, age two, joined Joe on the diamond. A local newspaper reported, “[o]n the mound, little Steve Macko tossed his best slider at his nearby father. Joe Macko batted it back at Steve, who fielded it deftly with an oversized glove.” “My brother’s six and Steve’s better than he is,” a child exclaimed. “Steve’ll be better than I am someday,” Joe responded, proudly.6

By 1958 the Macko family settled in the Dallas area.7 The Texas League’s Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs hired Joe as business manager in 1966.8 When the Washington Senators relocated to become the Texas Rangers in 1972, he moved to their business staff.9 In 1973 Joe began a long tenure as Rangers clubhouse manager.10

Steve Macko joined Bishop Dunne High School’s baseball team as a freshman in 1970. Led by righty pitcher Mike Bacsik, later with the Rangers and Twins, the Falcons earned their second consecutive Texas Catholic Interscholastic League title.11 Bishop Dunne lost the state title game in Macko’s sophomore year12 but won it again in 1972.13 As a senior in 1973, Macko batted .411 and received all-district and all-state honors.14 He served as the Rangers’ batboy during high school.15

Despite Macko’s success at Bishop Dunne, no major college program offered a scholarship.16 He enrolled at Panola County Junior College in east Texas, not far from Shreveport, Louisiana, abd started at shortstop there for two years. In 1975 he earned all-conference recognition after batting .37217 and leading the Ponies to their best record in school history.18

In 1973 Baylor University hired Mickey Sullivan, a two-time All-America outfielder for the Bears in the 1950s and Joe Macko’s Texas League teammate in 1956,19 as head baseball coach.20 Steve Macko committed to Baylor two weeks after his final junior college game in 1975. “Steve…was one of the finest shortstops in juco baseball, and I think we were fortunate to get him,” Sullivan said after Macko’s signing. “This young man has been around baseball all of his life, and he’ll be a good addition to Baylor. He’s got all the tools.”21

When Macko arrived in 1976, Baylor had a modest profile in Southwest Conference baseball.22 The Bears had finished no higher than fourth in the conference since 1966. They had not won a championship outright since 1923 or made the NCAA tournament since 1948. With 11 consecutive SWC titles and the 1975 national championship, the University of Texas reigned over the state’s college baseball scene.

Macko was at third base when Baylor opened their 1976 conference schedule at Texas Christian University. On February 28, his first-inning home run gave the Bears a 1-0 lead in the first game of a doubleheader.23 Baylor led 2-0 in the seventh when Macko was called safe at first base on a close play.24

TCU argued the call. A man stepped onto the field, grabbed the lead-weighted bar from the Horned Frogs’ on-deck circle, and walked towards the home-plate umpire, slapping the weighted bar into his palm.25 Sullivan approached the umpire to find out what was going on.26 Baylor’s next batter exchanged words with TCU’s catcher; the Horned Frog threw down his mask and glove and grabbed the Bear’s throat. The benches emptied. Spectators joined the fight.27

Macko broke his nose in the brawl. Sullivan wanted to remove him from the game, but Macko refused.28 He finished Baylor’s 3-0 win and hit an RBI triple in their 5-3 victory in the nightcap.29

“Steve put a band-aid over the nose, and every time his heart beat, a little blood would come through the holes in the band-aid,” Baylor teammate Luke Prestridge, later an NFL punter for six years, remembered. “He just sucked it up and played.”30

A lefty swinger, Macko set a conference record in 1976 with ten doubles in SWC play.31 Aluminum bats pervaded college baseball, but Macko stuck with lumber.

“What was amazing is while most all collegiate players were using aluminum bats, Steve used wood,” Baylor teammate Fritz Connally, later with the Cubs and Orioles, remembered. “Now it helped Steve that his dad was the equipment manager of the Texas Rangers at the time. So the wood bats he used were major-league quality. I think we were all jealous of Steve having the best gloves, cleats, batting gloves and bats, but all the better equipment didn’t enable him to hit .400. He had God-given talent.”32

Baylor finished fourth in the SWC behind Texas, who claimed their 12th consecutive crown. The San Francisco Giants selected Macko in the 28th round of the June draft, but he returned to Baylor for his senior season.

Macko opened 1977 at third, but Sullivan shifted several positions after Baylor started slowly. Most significantly, he moved Macko to shortstop and Connally, a freshman, from right field to third.33 The Bears held sixth place after the midpoint of their SWC schedule,34 but a change in conference policy offered a chance at the postseason. Instead of the regular-season champion receiving an automatic NCAA tournament berth, a four-team tournament would decide the conference’s representative.35

The Bears seized the opportunity, dominating Texas Tech and Southern Methodist University in back-to-back sweeps to clinch a spot in the conference tournament.36 Macko led the six-game surge with 13 hits in 26 at-bats.37 Against SMU, he crushed a 370-foot home run over the right field fence, leveraging power from his wood bat and 5-feet-10 frame.38

Macko secured the SWC batting title in Baylor’s final conference game. Two hits in a dramatic 14-inning win over Texas on May 1 gave him a .404 average.39 “Steve can do everything well,” Sullivan said. “His bat talks for itself, but defensively, he can go to either side with great speed, has a major league arm and lots of baseball savvy. He’s been a team leader all year long and if he isn’t All-American there just isn’t one in the world.”40

Texas faded in the stretch in 1977; Texas A&M snapped their streak of consecutive SWC titles and gained top seed in the conference tournament.41 Seeded third, Baylor knocked the Longhorns into the losers’ bracket with a 3-2 win in Austin on May 19. Macko raced home on a seventh-inning wild pitch for the Bears’ final run.42 A night later, Texas A&M’s first batter attempted to stretch a double into a triple, but Macko’s relay throw to Connally cut him down.43 Baylor beat the Aggies 2-1 to advance to the championship.44

The Longhorns reached the finals by beating Texas A&M on Sunday afternoon, May 22. Texas’ NCAA hopes required beating Baylor twice, starting with a Sunday night game, but Macko ensured that their season would go no further. In the first inning, he ignited a two-run rally with a leadoff single. He hit an RBI triple in the second and scored on a passed ball for a 4-0 lead. Baylor rolled to a 7-0 win, securing their first NCAA tournament berth in 29 years.45

The NCAA assigned the Bears to a regional at Arlington Stadium, where Macko had served as Rangers batboy just a few years earlier. “[Macko] has better than average range, a net for a glove, and a cannon for an arm,” a local newspaper observed.46 On the eve of the regional, Macko was voted the SWC’s Most Valuable Player for 1977.47

Baylor opened the regional by routing the University of New Orleans on May 26.48 A day later against Miami of Ohio, Macko dashed home from second on Prestridge’s first-inning single. The throw was close, but Macko hurdled the catcher, jarred the ball loose, and touched the plate with his right hand to score. In the third, Macko doubled off Charlie Leibrandt and scored on Connally’s double for a 2-0 lead. But Miami rallied for a 7-3 win, forcing Baylor into the losers’ bracket.49

Macko’s two home runs into a brisk breeze led Baylor to a 7-1 win over New Orleans in the elimination game.50 The Bears needed two wins over Miami to reach the College World Series. Their 12-7 win in the first game set up a winner-take-all match.51 In the deciding game, Macko led off the first by drawing a walk against Steve Fireovid and scoring the game’s first run. When freshman Jaime Cocanower relieved Joe Schott in the ninth and fanned two batters with runners on second and third, the Bears had a 2-0 win and their first-ever trip to the College World Series.52

As one of eight CWS finalists, Baylor drew the University of South Carolina on June 11. The Bears led 1-0 in the eighth, but Mookie Wilson scored the tying run from third when Baylor threw to second on an attempted steal. After Connally’s tenth-inning RBI single gave Baylor another one-run lead, Chuck McLean’s two-run inside-the-park home run won the game for the Gamecocks.53

The Bears faced the University of Minnesota and 1976 All-America shortstop Paul Molitor in an elimination game. Baylor built a 3-1 lead behind Macko’s first-inning run and sixth-inning RBI single, but the Golden Gophers tied it in the seventh. The deadlock remained in the 11th when rain suspended the game until the next day.54 Minnesota scored in the top of the 11th and retired Baylor in order, ending the Bears’ historic season.55 Macko was named first-team All-America for 1977 later in the week.56

As Macko waited for the College World Series, the major leagues had their June draft. The Cubs selected him in the fifth round on June 7. Macko signed with Chicago within a week of Baylor’s CWS elimination.57 He began his professional career with Pompano Beach in the Florida State League and batted .299/.408/.417 in 40 games.

A promotion to AA followed in 1978. With the Texas League’s Midland Cubs, Macko was selected for two all-star teams at shortstop: a mid-season squad for an all-star game58 and a league-wide team at season’s end.59 He appeared in all but two of Midland’s 135 games and batted .302/.384./.405 with 41 extra-base hits and 75 walks.

In 1979 the Cubs invited Macko to spring training, using him at second base for the first time in his career.60 Dave Nightingale of the Chicago Tribune credited Macko and several other younger Cubs with “infus[ing] enthusiasm” into the Cactus League schedule. Nightingale noted that Macko “had a pleasant, if bashful, smile for everyone. He also won two games with hits and fielded flawlessly this spring.”61

Assigned to the AAA Wichita Aeros, Macko began 1979 at shortstop, later seeing time at second. In June Aeros manager Jack Hiatt called him “the team’s best prospect.”62 Cubs’ legend Billy Williams, then serving as a minor-league hitting instructor, praised Macko after a July visit.63 On August 17, Chicago, trailing first-place Pittsburgh by six games in the National League East, traded veteran infielder Ted Sizemore to Boston and called up Macko, who was batting .244 for the Aeros.64

On August 18, his first day in a major-league uniform, Macko debuted at second base in the eighth inning of a tie game against San Diego at Wrigley Field. Facing Rollie Fingers in the bottom of the inning, Macko lined sharply to first. “I was frightened to death out there,” he told the Chicago Tribune. But he handled both of his chances at second flawlessly and the Cubs won in the bottom of the ninth to close within four games of first.65

Another clutch opportunity arrived on August 27 in San Diego. Macko came in at second in the eighth inning with Chicago trailing, 4-2. The deficit was one run in the ninth when he batted against Mark Lee with two outs and runners on first and third. Macko lined a single to right for his first major-league hit, tying the game.66

Macko made his first major-league start at third on August 30 at Dodger Stadium. With the Cubs leading 2-1 in the eighth, Joe Ferguson reached third with one out. The next two batters tested Macko. Bill Russell hit a bouncer near the bag. Macko fielded it, held Ferguson at third, and threw to first for the second out. Steve Garvey followed with a smash off Macko’s chest. The ball bounced straight up; Macko caught it and threw out Garvey, preserving the lead. “It was hit too hard and too fast for me to be scared,” Macko said. “I’m sure my chest will hurt tomorrow.”67

Macko generated insurance in the ninth. His two-out line-drive single off Bobby Castillo drove in Larry Biittner; he then scored on Steve Ontiveros’ single to cap Chicago’s 4-1 win. “It was kind of a lucky hit,” Macko said. “I waited on it and it still broke my bat. It was my last bat. But I can borrow someone else’s.”68

Increased playing time followed Macko’s early success. From August 30 to September 6, he started seven of eight Cubs’ games at second or third base. On September 1, his ninth-inning single off Don Sutton put the tying run on base in an eventual loss to the Dodgers. He hit safely in all but one start, including three hits against St. Louis’ Pete Vuckovich on September 4. He raised his season totals to .310/.355/.345 over this stretch.

But Macko played in only seven of the Cubs’ 25 games after September 6.69 His overall numbers suffered in sporadic play; 11 hitless at-bats reduced his final batting average to .225. Staggering through the season’s last five weeks, the Cubs finished fifth in the division.

The Topps Company’s 1980 baseball card set heralded Macko as a “Future Star,” but Chicago had no room for him on their Opening Day roster.70 He started several Cactus League games but returned to Wichita at the beginning of the season.

Macko improved in his second season at AAA. His strikeouts dropped from his 1979 totals; his on-base percentage and slugging percentage increased. On July 20, the Chicago Tribune identified him among four Aeros capable of handling major-league roles, characterizing him as “a fast-stepping, singles-hitting second baseman.”71

Two days later, the Cubs recalled Macko from Wichita, but his return to the majors yielded only sporadic playing time. He started three times and pinch-ran once in his first two weeks back, hitting safely in all three starts but never playing in consecutive games.

Macko did not expect to play against Pittsburgh on August 5 at Wrigley Field. Following his routine as a backup, he took 60 to 70 batting practice swings. He then learned he was starting at shortstop with Ivan De Jesus injured and Mick Kelleher attending a funeral.72

In the second inning, Macko short-circuited a Pirates’ threat with a backhanded stop in the hole. His RBI single off Enrique Romo contributed to a five-run seventh that clinched Chicago’s 11-3 win. Macko turned two double plays and handled ten chances without an error, backing Rick Reuschel’s grounder-heavy complete game. “That Macko is one fine fielder,” Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner said afterwards.73

A day later, Macko was back in the lineup at shortstop. He singled off Jim Bibby in the fourth as Chicago built an early 4-1 lead. After the Pirates rallied to tie the game in the fifth, Bill Madlock reached first with one out in the sixth.

Ed Ott grounded to second baseman Mike Tyson, who threw to Macko at the bag. As Macko made the double-play pivot, Madlock went in hard, driving his hip into Macko’s thighs in what Tyson afterwards called a cross-body block. Flipped into the air by the impact, Macko still threw to first to complete the inning-ending double play.74

Macko was due up fourth in the bottom of the inning. He batted with two outs and Jerry Martin on second. Bibby pitched him away, but he lined the ball off the ivy-covered wall in left center, scoring Martin for a 5-4 Chicago lead. In pain from the collision with Madlock, Macko limped into second; Reuschel came in to pinch-run, with bad blood running high. When the next Cub grounded to Madlock for the third out, Reuschel ran by the Pittsburgh third baseman, brushing against him and shouting.75

In the Cubs’ clubhouse, Macko’s thigh was so badly swollen that his pants had to be cut off.76 The Cubs placed him on the disabled list immediately.77 Macko hoped to return in 1980, but never did. On September 22, the Chicago Tribune reported him out for the season with a calcium buildup in his thigh.78

Macko returned to Texas after the season, but his leg was not healing. In October, Rangers trainer Bill Ziegler examined him and observed that one testicle was bigger than the other.79 He referred Macko to team doctor B.J. Mykoskie.80 On October 24, Macko entered Arlington Memorial Hospital for “observation and possible testicle surgery.”81

The diagnosis was a choriocarcinoma—a malignancy—and it had spread to his lungs.82 Chemotherapy began on October 30. “It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Macko said. “I really believe I can get rid of this. I just hope the Cubs don’t hold anything against me; the doctors tell me there’s an 80 to 90 percent chance I’ll respond to therapy.”83

Despite the diagnosis, Macko aimed to return for spring training. “They tell me [the treatment] will make me nauseous and tired and it will make my hair fall out,” Macko said after his second day of chemotherapy. “I’m going to look like an egghead but at least I’ll have a chance to play.”84

Macko spent the winter receiving chemotherapy and maintaining his strength with weights, a stationary bike, and jump rope.85 He and Joe opened an Arlington restaurant called “Smacko’s,” after Joe’s nickname.86 But Steve had a seizure in mid-February. A tumor had developed on his brain.87 Instead of reporting to spring training on March 1, he required six radiation treatments,88 delaying his arrival by four weeks.89

On the fields of Arizona at last, Macko took ground balls for as long as his health allowed, which was usually ten minutes at a time. His weight dropped below 150 pounds. Chemotherapy periodically took him away from the diamond. “I look at baseball as being part of my therapy,” Macko said. “I’ve got something to look forward to. I know that if I can get over this, I can play in the big leagues. When you’ve got something to fight for, it makes it that much easier to fight.”90

The Cubs kept Macko on the major-league roster in 1981 via the 60-day disabled list.91 His contract provided for two wigs for his bald head: one to wear in uniform and one in civilian clothes.92 “I’d like to play some this year but I think I just have to look forward to next year,” he said. “It’s in their hands as to whether I get in any games, but it’s in my hands as to whether I feel I am strong enough to play.”93

On April 9, Macko suited up for the Cubs’ Opening Day loss to the Mets at Wrigley Field. Thoughts of taking the field for pregame introductions gave him hope during the winter. “When it finally happened,” he said. “I got a little chill.”94 Macko’s presence touched columnist John Schulian: “What [Macko] neglected to acknowledge is the contribution he made just by trotting out for the introductions, just by tipping his cap. The contribution had little to do with baseball and a lot to do with humanity. You can say Steve Macko put things in perspective.”95

Chicago lost 12 straight games in April and rapidly fell out of contention. Macko traveled with the team unless chemotherapy required him to go to Texas.96 On May 18, the Cubs visited Des Moines, Iowa, for an exhibition with their relocated Class AAA affiliate. The team doctor cleared Macko to play. With the Cubs trailing 4-2 in the top of the eighth, he pinch-hit with Tyson on third and one out, his first at-bat since his injury. He drove in Tyson with a grounder to the right side. Remaining in the game at third base, Macko was there in the ninth with the score tied and a runner on third. A slow bouncer came towards third. Macko fielded it cleanly but could not throw out the runner; the winning run scored. “I think I might have gotten him if I had been in shape,” Macko said.97

On June 12, major league baseball went on strike. During the strike, Macko spoke with a Fort Worth newspaper. His treatment had required nine pints of blood the week before. Macko contemplated mortality as he fell asleep at night. “That’s when you turn religious,” he said. “You’ve just got to think that’s the beginning, not the end.”98

Macko continued to travel with the Cubs after the strike ended. On a California trip in August, he went body surfing with several teammates.99 “Steve Macko is part of this team,” Cubs manager Joe Amalfitano said. “I think he’s taught us all that you can lose a baseball game and still be a winner.”100

He joined the Cubs’ road trips until the second half of September and then returned to Texas for the offseason.101 “We knew he was sick but Steve never let on,” Joe Macko said. “He had his own condominium in Arlington and, instead of staying with Dorothy and me all the time, he wanted to be off by himself a lot. That’s how we knew it was worse than he ever let on.”102

On November 11, Steve and Joe Macko were golfing. After seven holes, Steve complained of trouble breathing. He was rushed to the emergency room at Arlington Memorial Hospital. Doctors discovered a leak in his lungs, caused by large tumors.103 Four days later, at 8:45 am, Steve Macko passed away in his sleep.104

His teammates mourned his passing. Several Cubs traveled to Arlington for the funeral.105 “We thought the world of him,” Steve Dillard said. “Our hope was that he was so young and so strong that he would beat it. He sure tried, didn’t he?”106

“The way he conducted himself through all of this showed a lot of pride, class, and guts,” Krukow added. “Steve won’t be with us at spring training next year, but his kind of courage can’t die. He showed us how to live.”107

The Cubs honored Steve Macko by inviting Joe to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day 1982 at Wrigley Field.108 “Steve adored baseball and loved the Cubs,” Joe said. “I played for them and never quite got there, so he wanted to get there for me. If he had been well, I think he would have been outstanding.”109

Steve Macko’s legacy ultimately cuts deeper than the official records of his major-league tenure or the cardboard rectangles hailing unrealized future stardom. A posthumous Hall of Famer for Baylor University and the Southwest Conference,110 he remains unforgettable to all who were there. “We’re always talking about Steve, 40 years later,” Prestridge said. “That says a lot about who he was.”111

 

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Mike Bacsik and Luke Prestridge for sharing their memories of Steve Macko in telephone interviews and Mike Macko and Fritz Connally for sharing their memories by email; Jonathan Maurer for connecting me with Mike Bacsik; and Neal Farmer for documenting the legacy of SWC baseball in Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits, published as the conference disbanded in the spring of 1996.

This biography was reviewed by Jack Zerby, Paul Proia, and Rory Costello, and fact-checked by Evan Katz.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author relied on Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, and WGN-TV’s sports highlights from the Cubs-Pirates doubleheader of August 6, 1980, available on YouTube.

 

Notes

1 Bob Logan, “A Fatal Cancer Couldn’t Rob Cubs’ Macko of Class, Dignity,” Chicago Tribune, November 16, 1981: Section 4, 1.

2 “Eagles Pound Beaumont, 4-1: Erickson Notches 17th Victory on Five-Hitter,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 27, 1952: Section 2, 1.

3 Jim Reeves, “Daniels, Washington a Winning Ticket?,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 2, 2007: 7C.

4 Stefan Stevenson, “Beloved Rangers Figure Dies,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 27, 2014: 1C.

5 Steve Pate, “Macko: A Reason To Run,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 22, 1984: 1D.

6 Alan Levy, “Cameramen Take the Field With the Colonels,” Courier-Journal, July 8, 1957: Section 2, 1.

7 Bill Van Fleet, “Midweek Sport Notes on Variety of Items,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 12, 1958: 11.

8 “Macko, 16-Year Veteran Added to Spur Staff,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 11, 1966: 4-B.

9 “Ranger Business Manager Talks Baseball at Rotary,” Irving Daily News, March 3, 1972: 10.

10 “Ranger Front Office Personnel Shuffled,” Fort Worth Star-Telegraph, February 6, 1973: 1-C.

11 Mike Bacsik, telephone interview with author, May 17, 2020.

12 Bishop Dunne High School, The Mitre, Vol. X, 1971: 131.

13 Bishop Dunne High School, The Mitre, Vol. XI, 1972: 120.

14 “Panola College Signs 12 Players,” Longview Morning Journal, August 12, 1973: 3-B.

15 Harold McKinney, “Broberg’s Frustrations End: Year’s Drought Ends With 3-2 Win Over Indians,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 31, 1973: 1-D.

16 Joe Hornaday, “Two Infielders To Watch,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 30, 1977: 3d.

17 “Baylor Signs Star Panola JC Shortstop,” Waco Tribune-Herald, June 5, 1975: 1C.

18 John Inman, “Relievers Stymie Panola’s Ponies, 4-3: Finish With Best Record Ever,” Longview Morning Journal, May 20, 1975, 1-B.

19 Neal Farmer, Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits (Austin, Eakin Press: 1996), 27-28

20 David R. Holland, “Sullivan Replaces Schroeder: Baylor Recruiting Coordinator To Head Baseball Program,” Waco Tribune-Herald, June 24, 1973: 1-B.

21 “Baylor Signs Star Panola JC Shortstop.”

22 Mike Montfort, “Baylor Turns Baseball Miracle This Time,” Corsicana Daily Sun, June 5, 1977: 2B.

23 Jim Reeves, “Sky Comes Down on Top of Fighting Frogs,” Fort Worth Sun-Telegram, February 29, 1976: 1-C.

24 Reeves.

25 Reeves.

26 Farmer, Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits, 287.

27 Reeves, “Sky Comes Down on Top of Fighting Frogs.”

28 Farmer, Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits, 288.

29 Reeves, “Sky Comes Down on Top of Fighting Frogs.”

30 Farmer, Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits, 288.

31 Dick Moore, “Too Much Walking,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 5, 1976: 6d.

32 Fritz Connally, email to the author, July 15, 2020.

33 Joe Hornaday, “Overhaul Job on BU Works,” Fort-Worth Star Telegram, May 25, 1977: 2d.

34 “Macko Among Leaders in SWC Baseball Stats,” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 15, 1977: 2D.

35 Kirk Bohl, “Aggies Sittin’ Pretty in SWC Tournament,” Austin American-Statesman, May 19, 1977: E1.

36 Mark McFarlane, “Baylor Powers Past Tech 15-3,” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 20, 1977: 1C; Mark McFarlane, “Bears Pound SMU 15-0, 12-7,” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 24, 1977: 2E.

37 “Macko Wins SWC Honor,” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 26, 1977: 2B.

38 McFarlane, “Bears Pound SMU 15-0, 12-7.”

39 Kirk Bohls, “Horns Hopes for Victory Lost in Woods,” Austin American-Statesman, May 2, 1977: D1.

40 “Baylor’s ‘Big Mac’ Attack,” Waco Citizen, April 29, 1977: 3.

41 Joe Hornaday, “Orange Burnt, But Not Cooked,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 2, 1977: 3d.

42 David Lanier, “Opener Troubles Plague Porkers Again; A&M Wins,” Northwest Arkansas Times, May 20, 1977: 11.

43 Luke Prestridge, telephone interview with the author, August 16, 2020.

44 Joe Hornaday, “Baylor Nips Texas A&M 2-1,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 21, 1977: 1d.

45 Kirk Bohls, “Baylor’s Bats Bounce Longhorns in Finals,” Austin American-Statesman, May 23, 1977: D1.

46 Hornaday, “Overhaul Job on BU Works.”

47 “Bears Dominate All-SWC Baseball: Sullivan, Macko, Bickham Receive Honors,” Austin American-Statesman, May 26, 1977: E1.

48 Joe Hornaday, “Miami Out To Silence Baylor Bats,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 27, 1977: 2e.

49 Joe Hornaday, “Miami Takes Lead Over Bears in NCAA,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 28, 1977: 1d.

50 Joe Hornaday, “Baylor Stays Alive in NCAA,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 29, 1977: 1e.

51 Hornaday.

52 Joe Hornaday, “Baylor Wins Trip to Omaha,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 30, 1977: 1d.

53 Jim Thomas, “Carolina Rallies; Tigers Romp,” Greenville News, June 12, 1977: 1-E.

54 Ken Hambleton, “Rain Halts CWS,” Lincoln Journal, June 13, 1977: 17.

55 Jon Roe, “Gopher Nine Outlasts Baylor,” Minneapolis Tribune, June 14, 1977: 1C.

56 “Baylor’s Macko an All-American,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 16, 1977: 5d.

57 Jim Reeves, “Ranger Notes,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 19, 1977: 3e.

58 John Laird, “Four Diablos All Stars,” El Paso Times, July 4, 1978: 1-D.

59 “Diablos Clark Named MVP,” El Paso Times, September 7, 1978: 1-D.

60 John Meyer, “Macko Won’t Be in Minors as Long as Dad,” Waco Citizen, March 23, 1979: 5.

61 Dave Nightingale, “Cubs Find New Spirit Is Willing,” Chicago Tribune, April 2, 1979: Section 5, 1.

62 Jim Kimball, “Chuck Bell Switches to Wyoming,” Journal Gazette, June 4, 1979: 13.

63 Ron Sutton, “Williams, Cubs High on Gilbert,” Daily Dispatch, July 5, 1979: 45.

64 Mike Kiley, “Sizemore Dealt to Boston ‘Because of Dillard’s Play,’” Chicago Tribune, August 18, 1979: Section 2, 2.

65 Bob Verdi, “Cubs Rally in 9th Again,” Chicago Tribune, August 19, 1979: Section 4, 1.

66 Bob Verdi, “Cubs Beaten in 10th,” Chicago Tribune, August 28, 1979: Section 4, 1.

67 Steve Dilbeck, “Just Another 4-1 Defeat for Dodgers,” The Sun, August 31, 1979: C-1.

68 Dilbeck.

69 Macko’s start at second base in the first game of Chicago’s September 11 doubleheader at Montreal is noteworthy for his involvement in future Hall of Famer Tim Raines’ major-league debut. In the seventh inning, Raines, five days away from his 20th birthday, pinch-ran for Gary Carter. Ellis Valentine grounded to shortstop Ivan de Jesus, who threw to Macko at second to retire Raines. Despite Raines’ hard slide into second base, Macko threw to first baseman Larry Biittner to complete the double play. Wire service photos depicted Raines’ slide and Macko’s throw. “Expos Top Cubs . . . Twice,” Daily Chronicle, September 12, 1979: 12.

70 Macko appeared on card number 676 in the 1980 Topps set, along with Dave Geisel and Karl Pagel. In 1981 Topps again featured him on a “Future Stars” card (number 381), with Carlos Lezcano and Randy Martz.

71 Dave Nightingale, “Kennedy Has No Quick Cure for the Cubs,” Chicago Tribune, July 20, 1980: Section 4, 3.

72 Mike Kiley, “Martin Gets Over His Overswinging to Help Cubs Romp,” Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1980: Section 5, 3.

73 “Cub Clouts,” Chicago Tribune, August 6, 1980: Section 5, 4.

74 Dan Donovan, “Playing Bucs a Pain for Cubs,” Pittsburgh Press, August 7, 1980: C-1.

75 Donovan.

76 Farmer, Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits, 289.

77 Dan Donovan, “Playing Bucs a Pain for Cubs.”

78 Dave Nightingale, “Phillies Ace Out the Cubs,” Chicago Tribune, September 22, 1980: Section 5, 2.

79 Farmer, Southwest Conference Baseball’s Greatest Hits, 289.

80 Farmer.

81 “Notes,” Chicago Tribune, October 24, 1980: Section 4, 6.

82 “Treatments Are Scheduled for Ranger Official’s Son,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 30, 1980: 3G.

83 “Macko Not Hanging Up His Glove,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 31, 1980: 5E.

84 “Macko’s Spirits Up,” Chicago Tribune, November 1, 1980: Section 2, 3.

85 John Wolin, “Life Is First, But Baseball’s a Close Second,” Miami Herald, March 14, 1981: 1BR.

86 Edd Fadal, “Thinkin’ Out Loud,” Waco Citizen, January 6, 1981: 4.

87 Ian MacDonald, “Cancer Biggest Opponent Facing Cubs’ Utility Infielder,” The Gazette, April 16, 1981: 26.

88 John Wolin, “Life Is First, But Baseball’s a Close Second.”

89 “A’s End Cub Streak,” Chicago Tribune, March 29, 1981: Section 4, 10.

90 Ken Leiker, “Baseball Therapy: For Cubs’ Macko, Cancer Battle Includes More Than Chemotherapy,” Arizona Republic, April 7, 1981: C1.

91 Ian MacDonald, “Cancer Biggest Opponent Facing Cubs’ Utility Infielder.”

92 Ken Leiker, “Baseball Therapy: For Cubs’ Macko, Cancer Battle Includes More Than Chemotherapy.”

93 Gene Raffensperger, “Cancer Main Battle of Ex-Iowan Macko,” Des Moines Register, April 7, 1981: 2B.

94 John Schulian, “Macko Puts Things in Perspective,” Arizona Daily Star, April 11, 1981: G1.

95 Schulian.

96 Bob Elliott Jr., “Cubs’ Macko Lives for Day He’ll Play Again,” The Citizen, April 15, 1981: 31.

97 Gene Raffensperger, “Oaks Hand Cubs Another Loss,” Des Moines Register, May 19, 1981: 1B.

98 Jim Reeves, “Young Macko Learns About Patience on Two Fronts,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 26, 1981: 1B.

99 Joe Goddard, “Cub Players Stunned by Steve Macko’s Death,” Chicago Sun-Times, November 16, 1981.

100 Bob Logan, “A Fatal Cancer Couldn’t Rob Cubs’ Macko of Class, Dignity.”

101 Logan.

102 Steve Pate, “Macko: A Reason To Run.”

103 Jim Reeves, “Ballplayer Loses Fight With Cancer,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 16, 1981: 9A.

104 Bob Logan, “A Fatal Cancer Couldn’t Rob Cubs’ Macko of Class, Dignity.”

105 Joe Goddard, “Cub Players Stunned by Steve Macko’s Death.” “The funeral home was not big enough for the crowd that came that day,” Steve’s brother Mike Macko remembered in 2020. “I know not everyone could get in and I think some were turned away.” Mike Macko, email to the author, September 28, 2020.

106 Goddard.

107 Bob Logan, “A Fatal Cancer Couldn’t Rob Cubs’ Macko of Class, Dignity.”

108 Mickey O’Donnell, “New Cubs Stop Mets: But Wrigley Field Looks More Like Comiskey Park,” Quad-City Times, April 10, 1982: 13.

109 Goddard, “Cub Players Stunned by Steve Macko’s Death.” Joe Macko served as the Rangers’ home clubhouse manager through 1995 and moved to the visiting clubhouse until his retirement in 2000. He passed away in 2014. “Joe was the nicest guy you’ll ever meet,” longtime Dallas sportswriter and broadcaster Randy Galloway said. “No one liked to have more fun than Joe. He crammed a lot of value in his 86 years.” Stefan Stevenson, “Beloved Rangers Figure Dies.”

110 Baylor’s Hall of Fame inducted Macko in 1988. https://baylorbears.com/sports/2018/5/16/ot-hall-alpha-html.aspx. The SWC Hall of Fame inducated him in 2017. http://tshof.org/about/news/index.html?article_id=701

111 Prestridge, telephone interview with the author, August 16, 2020.

Full Name

Steven Joseph Macko

Born

September 6, 1954 at Burlington, IA (USA)

Died

November 15, 1981 at Arlington, TX (USA)

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