"After that Steve was always terrified of hitting someone. One year Clyde King, his manager at Rochester, put a batter on each side of the plate and made Steve throw between them. He threw five or six strikes right down the middle.
"Another reason why he didn't make it was that he was too easily led. He seemed always to be looking for someone to follow, and in the minors he followed the wrong guys. One year we sent him to Pensacola to play under Lou Fitzgerald, an easygoing oldtimer. And who do you think Steve got hooked up with?—Bo Belinsky and Steve Barber! I think Steve could have made it if he was ever led by the right guys. Once we put Harry Brecheen behind the mound to talk to him on every pitch. Steve threw nothing but strikes. But the minute Harry walked off, Steve was as wild as ever.
"Finally, I think the Orioles made too much of a fuss over him. They were always billing him as the 'fastest pitcher alive,' and I think the publicity hurt him. Stuff like taking him to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and conducting all those experiments. I think he would have been a lot better off if they just left him alone...."
But if Dalkowski failed to discipline himself and his talent, no one doubted his desire. He never took exception to the many experiments the Orioles performed with him, and Brecheen once said that if ever a man deserved to make the majors it was Dalkowski. There were many people close to Dalkowski who said that he suffered those experiments too good-naturedly; that he should have gotten angry and rebelled against them. But rather than become angry with all the interest in him, he seemed bewildered and confused by it. And no matter how many hours he worked in the distant bullpens of Aberdeen, Kingsport and Pensacola, Dalkowski never really seemed a part of all those experiments.
Then there was always the feeling that he never got angry enough for success. If he could only begrudge someone else's success; if he could only berate those with inferior talent who had surpassed him, it might inspire him to succeed. But all he ever said was that he hoped for his own success because he had carried his own uniform too long, and ridden the buses too often, and that, "I never really met a ballplayer I didn't like."
By 1962 the Orioles, suddenly luxuriating in an embarrassment of riches in the pitching department, became tired of Dalkowski. He was shipped to Elmira of the Class A Eastern League, with strong prospects of even further descent. But under Earl Weaver, Dalkowski began to throw strikes—relatively speaking, that is. For the first time in his career he walked fewer batters (114) than innings pitched (160), while still striking out a substantial number (192). He won seven games, lost 10, and posted a respectable 3.04 ERA. He led the league in shutouts with six, and also completed eight of 19 starts, the most of his career.
"I felt that he had been given every tip on control that was ever known," said Weaver. "I knew there wasn't anything I could tell him that he hadn't heard 100 times before. So all I did was try to keep quiet."
The next spring Dalkowski's progress was the talk of the Orioles' training camp. In one three-inning relief stint against the Dodgers he fanned five and gave up no hits or walks. After that, Harry Brecheen said that Dalkowski was just the sort of reliever the Orioles had been looking for. His prospects were definitely bullish. Then in an exhibition game near the end of spring training, Dalkowski fielded a bunt and threw off-balance to first base. He got the runner, but also pinched a muscle in his elbow. He was never the same pitcher again.
The Orioles shipped him to Rochester of the International League in the hopes that his arm might come around there. But he could pitch only 12 innings, and then 29 innings at Elmira, and for the first time his strikeout average slipped to less than one per inning. The following season he started at Elmira and then drifted down to Stockton. In 1965 he was sent to Tri-Cities of the Class B-caliber Northwest League, and finally in midseason the Orioles released him. The Los Angeles Angels picked him up and sent him to San Jose, but the following spring the Angels gave him his unconditional release.
Dalkowski drifted down to Mexico to play in the Mexican League in 1968, only to arrive just as a major hurricane disrupted the entire league. Steve finally returned to Stockton where he married a schoolteacher. He worked for a while in his mother-in-law's chain of pet shops then he divorced his wife and disappeared from sight.