What made Steer's homecoming to Anaheim 'surreal'

August 27th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

PHOENIX -- Growing up in Long Beach, Calif., attended a lot of Angels games with his family. The Steer family frequently sat in left-field seats by the bullpen because tickets, with hot dogs included, cost $7 -- important savings for his parents while bringing their four sons.

This past week, Steer's parents, Chris and Dana, and multiple members of their family had a different perspective watching the games. And this time, of course, their son wasn't watching with them because he was on the field playing either third base or left field for the Reds against the Angels.

"Very surreal," Dana said. "I think coming here to Angel Stadium made it feel real for the first time because we followed him for so long in the Minor Leagues and different stadiums. To be here where he grew up and came to all the games with us -- and we went to many games every year -- it made it so perfect to me."

Steer, a 25-year-old rookie, embraced the moment and knew it was going to be special playing Major League games in Anaheim.

"I definitely took a couple of moments out there to soak it in a little more than I have at other places. I grew up going to that park," Steer said. "It's crazy looking back on it, knowing that it was my dream to play at this level. It was a pretty cool moment for me to take it in and realize where I am at."

The Steers still live a half-hour from Anaheim in Long Beach, where Dana is a schoolteacher and Chris works as a financial advisor. 

"He's been a huge Angels fan his whole life," Chris said. "He's a huge Mike Trout fan. It's kind of cool he got a chance to play against someone he looked up to. … It's a true blessing. He's worked really hard to get here and has a lot of great opportunities."

On Tuesday, Steer helped wreck Trout's return from the injured list when his fifth-inning RBI double provided the go-ahead run in Cincinnati's 4-3 victory

Before the series, Chris showed Spencer photos of him at Angel Stadium participating in a pitch, hit and run competition.

"They had a regional [event] here and he was on the field," Chris recalled. "He was on the big screen. It's special to come full circle. I showed him a picture. Obviously, we're proud of him. Look how far he's come. He's living the dream, no doubt."

Steer was a third-round pick by the Twins in the 2019 Draft out of Oregon. He was dealt to the Reds -- along with Christian Encarnacion-Strand -- at the 2022 Trade Deadline for pitcher Tyler Mahle. 

"When the trade happened, I think our hearts were broken a little bit," Chris said. "But it's turned out to be a blessing because the Reds have given him such a great opportunity. I know he appreciates it."

Oregon head coach George Horton was also on hand for the Reds-Angels series to watch Steer play. 

"Every time any of my ex-players achieve that level, it makes me very proud and happy for the player. My eyes and experience led me to believe Spencer would be a solid MLB player," Horton said. "In Spencer's case, I had stuck my neck out a bit because I told him and several scouting directors and GMs that he was going to be an MLB player."

Before Game 2 of Wednesday's doubleheader, there was another nice moment for the family. Spencer's older brother, Connor, threw a ceremonial first pitch and Spencer was behind the plate.

Connor works for the Angels' front office in ticket sales. After the pitch, the family gathered on the field for a picture. 

Spencer, initially, said no to catching his brother's pitch but was talked into it by Reds manager David Bell. 

"I didn't want to be a distraction before the game," Steer said. "David heard about it in the middle of the doubleheader and called me into his office and said, 'You're doing it. Trust me, you're going to be happy you did.' It was a really cool moment and I'm glad I got the nudge to do it."

Steer made the week even more special by performing well on the field. In the three-game series sweep of the Angels, he went 5-for-10 with a double and four RBIs.

"That's the icing on the cake," he said.