Results tagged ‘ Bruce Sutter ’

Dan Quisenberry: Fireman of the Year

By Trevor Hayes

Dan Quisenberry was never the type to grab headlines and national attention. He was a solid performer and a reliable closer. He won a World Series and appeared in every game of another Fall Classic. He pitched 12 seasons in the Majors, but he was anything but a typical ballplayer.

Quiz wrote poetry. He was a shutdown reliever, but he relied not on a blow-away fastball but pinpoint control, deception and a submarine delivery that confused hitters and earned him the nickname “The Australian,” because he came from down under.

He might have been the wackiest guy to play for the Royals – though with personalities like “The Mad Hungarian” Al Hrabosky having worn a K.C. uniform that might be a tough title to hold. But in Kansas City, everyone who slots into the back of the Royals bullpen must live up to Quiz.

Growing up in Kansas City, I’ve gotten a steady diet of two things – bad baseball to watch and plenty of chatter about the team’s successful past. Quisenberry is talked about with great respect. I was at his Induction to the Royals Hall of Fame and remember the sadness throughout the Metro area when he passed away after a bought with brain cancer.

A unique personality off the field, when Quisenberry took the mound hitters could expect a fight and lots of strikes. Using the solid defense behind him, he picked away at the zone. He gave up just 11 walks in 1983 and 12 in 1984 over a combined 268 innings, and was runnerup for the Cy Young Award in both years.

As guys like Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter began to define the modern day closer, in some ways Quisenberry was right there. He set the single season record for saves in 1983 with 45 – a mark that is still tied for tops in the Royals record books. It was the first time any pitcher had reached 40 saves in a single season. In 1984 Quiz threatened his own record, ending the season with 44, while Sutter saved 45. The two shared the mark until Dave Righetti got 46 in 1986. Jeff Reardon joined Quisenberry as the only pitchers with a pair of 40-save seasons in 1988 and then in 1992, he broke Quiz’s AL saves record, a mark he’d held since passing Fingers in 1987.

As the position of closer evolved in the 1980s, several pitchers put their stamp on the game, but today’s advanced metrics show how good Quisenberry was. His Adjusted ERA+ (which factors ballpark tendencies and season averages) of 146 ties him for fifth all-time. The names above him: Mariano Rivera, Pedro Martinez, Jim Devlin and Lefty Grove. He’s tied with Water Johnson and Hoyt Wilhelm. His career rate of 1.4 walks per nine innings pitched is the lowest since 1926 and fifth lowest since 1901.

One lasting impression Quiz holds on the closer position is his ties to the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award (originally called Fireman of the Year). From 1980 to 1985, he earned five gold-plated firefighter’s helmets, including four in a row. During that span he yeilded only the 1981 honors to Fingers (who won four in his career). Rivera is the only pitcher to match Quiz’s five Awards and noone has won more than two in a row.

Through the years, Quiz has become one of my favorite players, and the bobblehead of him wearing a fireman’s hat that sits on my desk is one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia not only because of the record it represents, but the player and story behind it. The Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit, One for the Books, which opens May 28, is focused on that exact concept. It seeks to not only glorify the game’s greatest records, but the rich stories behind the records.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hall Monitor: Middle infielders, whiffs and luminaries

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

The regular season has just two weeks left. That means contenders are fighting for holds on playoffs spots and the game’s stars are grabbing hold of history.

Torrid Tulo: In two of the last three seasons, the Rockies have pasted together historic September runs and are in the middle of trying to sneak into the playoffs again in 2010. Those successes were in part thanks to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This year is no different. Over his last 14 games, Tulo has 11 home runs and 27 RBIs, including a pair of jacks and seven RBI during a 9-6 win over the Padres on Wednesday which brought Colorado 2-and-a-half back from both the division and Wild Card leads.

09-17-10-Hayes_Greenberg.jpgAccording to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tulowitzki is the second player with more than 10 homers and 25 RBIs during a 14 game stretch in September or October. During his MVP season in 1940, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg had 12 homers and 31 RBIs in the waning month of the season. During his spree, the Rockies shortstop tied another Hall of Fame name for a nugget of September history. Ralph Kiner hit 11 home runs through the his 15 games of September, 1949 – the same number Tulo has during his first 14.

Southland Southpaws: This week, Clayton Kershaw became the first Dodger lefty to reach 200 strikeouts in a season since 1986. That year Fernando Valenzuela fanned 242 for his third straight 200-K season. Only one other southpaw has at least 200 K’s in a season since the team moved to Los Angeles. Sandy Koufax racked up six 200-plus seasons, three of which were over 300 including 1965, in which he set a then-Major League record with 382. Just one other 200-strikeout season exists in franchise history by a lefty. Nap Rucker had 201 for the 1909 Brooklyn Superbas.

Cub closers: Carlos Marmol ended Monday’s Cubs-Cards contest with his 120th strikeout of the season. He’s the first reliever to produce a season at that level since 2004, when four players topped the mark. Marmol also became just the second Cub to rack up that many strikeouts in relief, joining Bruce Sutter, who had 129 in 1977. Interestingly enough the only other Hall of Famer to top 120 without starting a game also played for the Cubs. Goose Gossage had three seasons with at least 120 strikeouts including one with the Cubs neighbors to the South – the White Sox in 1975.


09-17-10-Hayes_HornsbyGordonSandberg.jpgUggla stands alone
: Fourteen second basemen, including three Hall of Famers, have belted 30 home runs in a single season. But Marlins two-bagger Dan Uggla became the first Monday to hit 30 or more in four total seasons. In addition, he’s done it in four consecutive seasons – further besting the previous record of two straight. Prior to Uggla’s record-setting power at the keystone sack, Alfonso Soriano, Chase Utley and Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby were the only hitters with three 30-homer seasons. Four men have compiled two such seasons, including Hall of Famers Ryne Sandberg and Joe Gordon.

Hall of Famer watch: Whitey Herzog will be at Busch Stadium tonight. Fresh off his number retirement ceremony last month and Hall of Fame Induction in July, the newest Hall of Fame manager will spend some time with fans in his adopted hometown, St. Louis, before his beloved Cardinals open their series against the Padres.

The Giants will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with their annual Fiesta Gigantes event. Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda and Rock & Roll Legend Carlos Santana are offering a special event before the Brewers-Giants matchup Saturday with proceeds benefiting Santana’s Milagro Foundation.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The 600 Club: The Loneliest Man in Baseball

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

There are over 1,000 men who have 600 major league hits, 987 who have recorded 600 strikeouts, 22 with 600 games started, 17 with 600 stolen bases, 14 with 600 doubles and seven with 600 home runs. But only one man has 600 saves.

09-09-10-Hayes_Artifacts.jpgTwo nights ago, Trevor Hoffman created baseball’s most elite club by collecting his 600th career save against the Cardinals. Today, his cap from the historic event arrived at the Hall of Fame, adding to his generous list of donated artifacts already in Cooperstown.

A milestone 18 years in the making, Hoffman saved his first career game on April 29, 1993 with the Florida Marlins. His third career save came in August 1993 – his first with the Padres, for whom he collected 551 more. After 16 years in San Diego, Hoffman joined the Brewers to amass 46 saves en route to 600.

Forty-one years after the save became an official statistic, the 42-year-old Hoffman has become the master. In a few weeks, he will have held the title of all-time saves leader for four full years. After recording save No. 479 on Sept. 24, 2006 against the Pirates – passing Lee Smith for the all-time lead – Hoffman donated the final-out ball, along with his cap, jersey and spikes from the game, to the Hall of Fame.

 A seven-time All-Star, his ascension was slow at first, before he ramped up his dominance toward the end of the 1990s. It took him four years to reach 100. But numbers 200, 300 and 500 each fell just two seasons after his last century milestone marker. His journey from No. 300 to No. 400 took a detour because of two shoulder surgeries, but he rebounded, accumulating 248 saves after not recording a single save in 2003.

Since Hoyt Wilhelm became the first pitcher who was primarily a reliever elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985, Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008) all have gained admittance to Cooperstown. Among the group, Wilhelm and Fingers were once the all-time saves leader. Sutter held the single season record and Gossage for a period of time was the active leader. None of them, however, come within 200 saves of Hoffman’s mark.

During his journey to 600, Hoffman has had history and the Hall of Fame in mind. Along with his 479th save donation, he also sent his jersey, spikes and a ball from save No. 400. In the Padres locker of the Museum’s Today’s Game exhibit, save final-out ball and his jersey, cap, glove and spikes can be found from his 500th. Once accessioned into the collection, the 600 save cap will also go on display in Today’s Game on the second floor of the Museum.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Stars Come in All Forms

Horn_90.jpgBy Brad Horn

ST. LOUIS — The All-Star Game has come to represent so much more than just the top 30 or so players from each league who are having the best seasons to date.

7-13-09-Horn_Smith.jpgThrough an All-Star Week — featuring the XM All-Star Futures Game, the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and the ever-popular State Farm Home Run Derby — baseball fans have more and more reasons with each passing year to become immersed in All-Star extravagance.

This year is no different. Before the “All-Stars” had even arrived in St. Louis late Sunday night, many other Stars took centerstage. Hall of Famers Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers and Ozzie Smith were on the diamond at Busch Stadium on Sunday evening. And fellow Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Luis Aparicio, Dick Williams, Brooks Robinson, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Gaylord Perry were just a few members of the baseball royalty out and about downtown and at FanFest.

The biggest star on Sunday? None other than Rene Tosoni, of course.

An outfielder by trade for the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate, the not-to-far-down-the-road-from-Cooperstown New Britain (Conn.) Rock Cats, Tosoni, who hails from Coquitlam, British Columbia, was pleased to be a part of the World Team in the Futures Game on Sunday. He just wanted to get in the game. But after a 4-hour rain delay, time seemed to be running out as the game reached the final inning — the top of the 7th — with his team down 5-3. 

7-13-09-Horn_Tosoni.jpgThen, in the blink of an eye, Tosoni finds himself this All-Star Monday morning on the way back to Connecticut — with his bat from his pinch-hit, two-run double on its way to Cooperstown. 

“Wow,” uttered Tosoni moments after being presented the MVP Award on Sunday night outside the visitor dugout — and learning his bat would join other Futures Game MVPs in Cooperstown, a tradition started with the very first Futures Game MVP, Alfonso Soriano, in 1999.

Tosoni has never been to Cooperstown, but his bat — brand new, with just one hit to its resume — will soon be on display. Tosoni may not be the best known star from Sunday, but he is the quintessential All-Star among us who represents what baseball can bring you: An unexpected spot in history, on any given day.

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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