James "Red" Steiner was born on January 7, 1915, in Los Angeles. He attended schools in L.A., including McKinley Junior High School and Jefferson High, which he attended through the 11th grade.
He played American Legion and semipro baseball in the Los Angeles area, and was playing for the R. L. Colburn Brokers semipro team against the Catalina Cubs when he was spotted and signed by the Chicago Cubs’ farm team, the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels. The Angels in turn placed him with their Class-C Western Association affiliate in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
He only got into five games for Ponca City in 1934, but a broken leg cut his season short. In 1935, leg repaired, he hit .324 prompting a promotion to the L.A. club, where again he showed well in a brief stint.
His 1936 season began in Ponca City, before he was recalled to Los Angeles in July. He trained with Los Angeles in 1937, but was optioned out the day before Opening Day and spent the next three seasons (1937 through 1939) playing in the Three-I League for the Moline Plow Boys. In 1940, he caught for the Tulsa Oilers in the Texas League.
After the season, he left the Cubs’ system for that of the Boston Braves and they placed him with their Single-A Eastern League club, the Hartford Bees. He held a defense job during the offseason and in March 1942, decided he would stick with the job and not return to baseball. He changed his mind and before the year was out, his contract was sold again, to Jersey City in December.
In 1944 he declined to report, uncertain as he was about his draft status. Partway into the season, he was able to purchase his own contract from Jersey City and signed with the Pacific Coast League’s Sacramento Solons, where he had an excellent year.
In September, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for three players. His long-awaited major-league debut came in May, when Cleveland hosted the Red Sox. With every game, his average drifted lower and after a dozen appearances, he was batting .150.
In August, he was sold to the Red Sox for the $7,500 waiver price. He got more playing time with the Red Sox than he had with the Indians, appearing in 26 games and batting .203. In early November, his contract was sold to Sacramento. With so many veteran ballplayers coming back from military service, his time in the big leagues was done.
Red played winter ball in Mexico and signed with the Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes in the Mexican League for the 1946 season. He played for Nuevo Laredo in 1946 and then with the Veracruz team in 1947. In the winter, he played Cuban ball for Alacranes and in a very few games for Santiago. He played out the 1949 season with the Tecolotes, but in February 1950, signed again with Sacramento.
In early 1951, his contract was sold to the Memphis Chicks. Both Sacramento and Memphis had working agreements with the Chicago White Sox but he refused to report, and was placed on the voluntarily retired list.
Red Steiner took up work as a leadman for Rockwell International, living in Gardena, California and passed away at age 86, on November 16, 2001, in Gardena, California.