Steve Maher, St. Thomas' All-American pitcher and record-holder, is baffling D-I and D-II hitters in the Northwoods League for the Waterloo Bucks. (credit: University of St. Thomas/Mike Ekern)

Steve Maher, St. Thomas’ All-American pitcher and record-holder, is baffling D-I and D-II hitters in the Northwoods League for the Waterloo Bucks.
(credit: University of St. Thomas/Mike Ekern)

I’m confident the following is true.

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Steve Maher’s summer > your summer.

Before you angrily start over-sharing your Instagram lake pics en masse, here’s why.

The All-American pitcher from Division-III St. Thomas is playing America’s pastime – every – single – day in the Northwoods League with the Waterloo Bucks (seriously, like some 75 games in 70 days).

“You don’t get sick of playing every day,” said Maher, who’ll be a senior in the fall. “It’s something I’ll hold onto the rest of my life. I seriously stop and think, ‘I get to play baseball everyday – something I love to do.'”

(credit: Waterloo Bucks/Stephanie Regenold)

Maher’s Northwoods League ERA for the Bucks is 2.27.
(credit: Waterloo Bucks/Stephanie Regenold)

The 22-year-old Burnsville native has baffled his D-I and D-II opponents with a 2.27 ERA. He had a July streak that left opponents cranking up the A/C at the plate, whiffing and batting just .033.

“I throw a lot of breaking pitches,” said St. Thomas’ single-season record holder for strikeouts (109) and wins (13). “It’s 70 percent sliders and curveballs, and 30 percent spotting fastballs.”

When he isn’t traveling around the upper Midwest helping the Bucks (38-13) lead the North Division, he’s appreciating the hospitality of the Mike and Barb Henning, who’ve put him up in Waterloo for the summer.

“You think it’s going to be weird (living with a host family), but I couldn’t ask for anything more – they’ve been awesome,” he said.

For Maher, nothing has made summer 2013 sweeter than seeing wooden bats, as opposed to the powerful metal counterparts in the college ranks.

“When they use wooden bats, you know they have to be a true hitter to get big hits off you,” said Maher, who earned his role on the Bucks by performing well enough to have a 10-day contract extended for the rest of the summer. “It’s my favorite part of the league.”

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Maher’s path to the present possessed potential pitfalls.

The prep star at the Academy of Holy Angels was a scholarship player for Illinois State, then an elbow injury sidelined his career plans, and he redshirted his freshman year.

After a stint at Fort Dodge, a junior college in Iowa, he wound up following in the Tommie footsteps of his mother and father, Bruce and Michelle.

(credit: University of St. Thomas/Mike Ekern)

(credit: University of St. Thomas/Mike Ekern)

But he found a home wearing purple, becoming one of D-III’s best arms in 2012, helping UST to a third-place finish at nationals.

“That was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “We had such a great team that year with great leadership and a great coaching staff.”

The broadcast journalism major, who hopes to hear his voice talking baseball over the radiowaves after graduation, did not play baseball last summer.

After pitching 97 innings in spring 2012, Maher picked up a different summer gig.

“I put in about 70 hours a week at Valleyfair as a ride operator,” he said. “I worked the go-karts and the RipCord – from open to close, six days a week.”

The highlights of a Valleyfair paycheck include free ride nights, complete with all-you-can eat corndogs and pronto puffs. And the lowlights, well, Maher took the politically correct course and called it “an experience in customer service.”

Maher also takes his off-speed arsenal on the mound just as seriously as he cares about quality cuisine.

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“I like finding the best food places in the cities,” he said. “I really like Roosters BBQ in St. Paul, Maverick’s Real Roast Beef in Roseville, and Mac’s Fish and Chips in Roseville.