Steve Stumpff

Steven R. Stumpff was born on February 5, 1954 to Don and Mary Ann (known as “Nan” by the community).  Claiming the birthright of every boy born in Norway in that era, he was also born into a baseball family that reached well beyond the four walls of his home.  His father, Don (Senior) was, along with Lyle and Wayne Kimm, one of the foundations of Norway baseball, and was one of the Little League coaches that first began instilling ‘Norway Baseball’ into each new group of boys every year.  Steve’s older brother, Don (Junior) would play on Coach Bernie Hutchison’s cadre of high school champions in the mid-1960s, and then followed his father into youth league coaching.  Younger brother Charlie, after four years under Jim Van Scoyoc, also joined the family business and (as of 2011) had led three squads to the Iowa state baseball tournament, twice as runner-up, and is currently the head coach at Iowa West High School in Iowa City. Steve also has two sisters, Rebecca (currently living in San Diego), and Mary, who resides in Monett, Missouri.

Growing up on the same block as the bank, itself the former site of the town hotel where coach Jim Pease and a number of the town team players lived in the pre-Depression era, Stumpff was surrounded by the game.  At the end of the block lived young Mike Boddicker, brother of Butch, and a future All-Star and World Series champion, and Bob, who coached Norway High to the state tournament one summer and who umpired a number of local games.  Behind the Boddickers lived Lloyd and Esther Primrose.   Esther was an older sister of Norway’s first major league star, Hal Trosky (Sr), and their sons Robert and Harold both went on to greatness – Robert as one of the first-ever U2 pilots, and an active participant in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Harold as a teacher and legendary high school and college baseball coach in Norway and Cedar Rapids.  Interestingly, all four of those men began their lives playing baseball in Norway, then four years at the University of Iowa, before branching out on their own, unique paths.

As if genetics and environment weren’t enough, Steve Stumpff was simply a gifted baseball player.  In addition to the formal youth leagues, he was part of a klatch that simply lived to play baseball.  Every day during the summer, the group of boys would hit the field as soon as the dew on the grass evaporated, and they would play until chores or a mother’s call to eat forced a time out.  When Bruce Kimm took on a paper route one summer, a job that forced him to work in the mid-afternoons, the entire group would help him with the deliveries so that he could get back on the diamond as soon as possible.

Stumpff entered Norway High School in the fall of 1968, and went on to a dazzling scholastic career for coaches Hutchison and Van Scoyoc.  Along with stars like Max Elliott and pitcher Gary Volz, the Tigers won the Fall 1970 state title with a 5-1 victory over Our Lady of Good Counsel in Fonda, Iowa.  After graduation, the Norway town team had some vacancies, so Steve joined the squad at first base.  In his very first town game, against arch-rival Watkins, Stumpff homered twice off pitcher Duane Usher.  Steve had also played Legion baseball during his high school years, and was part of the 1971 Iowa team, coached by Art Holland, that finished second in the nation.  The next year, 1972, under Ken Charipar’s tutelage, Steve became the fourth Norway player (after Dick McVay, Bruce Kimm, and Max Elliott) to be awarded the Earl Proctor award as the best Legion player in the state.

That fall Stumpff reported to coach Duane Banks and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, where he starred for four years at first base.  It was a terrific time to play at Iowa – during his freshman year one of his teammates was future major league All Star catcher Jim Sundberg, and during his senior year (as he had been in high school) was again teamed with Mike Boddicker.  Majoring in Physical Education in preparation for a career in teaching, Stumpff was one of the best in the conference, named All-Big-Ten (First Team) at first base after his sophomore and senior years. 

The Hawks did well in 1975, qualifying for the NCAA tournament before being eliminated after a loss to Texas A&M, but later that year, in August, Stumpff put baseball on the back burner when he married Kim Athey, the woman he’d been dating for two years.  That marriage has since produced daughter Lindsay, who is the head softball coach at Southwestern Community College in Creston; daughter Brady, who is the assistant softball coach at Pella High School; daughter Chelsea who is an active club volleyball coach with the Prairie Volleyball Club, and son Spencer, who is the assistant baseball coach at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.  The Stumpffs are also blessed with three beautiful grandchildren, Tatum, Reece, and Jayden, who are very special in their grandparent’s eyes.

It was Stumpff’s senior season in 1976, as part of a successful Hawkeye squad, that attracted the professional scouts.  The 6-foot, 2-inch first baseman could not only hit with power, but in 1976 led the team with a .385 batting average that paced the team to a 23-16 record.  His defense was stellar as well and, as of 2011, he still holds the school record for most putouts in a single game, after logging twenty against Tulsa in 1975.

Along with pitcher Tom Steen, who signed with the Houston Astros, Stumpff became a baseball professional when the San Francisco Giants made Stumpff their 15th round pick in the 1976 draft.  Immediately upon signing, the organization sent him to their rookie club in Great Falls, Montana.  Over that half-season, Steve appeared at first base in 54 games, and batted .275, but his professional baseball career ended with his release after the season. 

Steve returned to the University of Iowa that fall and performed his student teaching in nearby Solon.  After completing all of the requirements for certification, he accepted a teaching job back in Forsyth, Montana, a town approximately eighty miles east of Billings and not too far from where he’d played in the Pioneer League with Great Falls.  Arriving in July, with Kim seven months pregnant, the Stumpffs eventually stayed for eight years before moving back to a job with BGM Community Schools in Brooklyn, Iowa.  While in Montana, Steve had earned his Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Montana State University in Billings.  Later, in 2002, he earned his administrative endorsement from the University of Northern Iowa. 

In 1999, Steve accepted his current position where, in 2011, he is a counselor at Prairie High School in the College Community School District in Cedar Rapids. Steve is also enshrined in the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.