Friday, February 28, 2014

1987 DONRUSS DAN QUISENBERRY


HOW YOU GET OUTS WITH AN 80 MPH HEATER.



AN UNCONVENTIONAL FIREMAN IN MANY WAYS.



THE FRONT PAGE

  • Dan Quisenberry came from down under to get over on American League hitters for 10 seasons. He had to. Lacking velocity, Quisenberry slung an 80 mph fastball submarine-style with pinpoint control to become one of the best firemen in the game and in the process famously said, "I found a delivery in my flaw.'' In '83, he was the first to save 40 games in a season and held the AL career saves record of 238 when he retired in 1990. Eight years later he died of brain cancer, and the game lost a humble and happy-go-lucky pitcher.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Has everything but complete career stats, which always bothered me about Donruss cards in the '80s. Stats tell stories using numbers instead of words. When some are missing, it's like a novel missing pages.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Quis didn't unveil this delivery until his first full season in Kansas City in '80.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Spent four full seasons in the minors after being signed in '75.
  • Debuted in Kansas City in '79 with an overhand delivery, saving five games and winning three in relief.
  • In spring training the next season, Manager Jim Frey thought Quisenberry could be more effective as a submariner like Pirates fireman Kent Tekulve
  • He was right. Quis saved a major-league-leading 33 games for the AL champs in '80. The new motion gave addition sink to his fastball and combined with a sharp curve enticed lots of grounders that the Royals infield -- led by third baseman George Brett and second baseman Frank White -- turned into outs. He became a rare pitch-to-contact fireman.
  • From '82-'85, Quisenberry was the top fireman in the game, averaging 40 saves, seven wins and 134 innings a season. Closers today pitch half those innings.
  • Runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting in '83 (45 saves) and '84 (44) and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award five times, tied with Mariano Rivera for most ever.
  • A rare fireman who did walk anyone (1.4 per nine) but didn't strike out anyone either (3.3) during his 12-year career. With the game today all about velocity and punch-outs, you have to wonder if any manager would trust a guy like this in the eighth or ninth innings.
  • He began having trouble getting lefties out in '86 so Manager Dick Howser began going with a fireman by committee, which was the beginning of the end to Quis' reign. He saved only 12 games that season and eight in '87.
  • Released by the Royals on July 4, 1988, and signed 10 days later with the Cardinals.  
  • Saved his final six games for the Cardinals in '89 and was released at the end of the season.
  • His 45 saves was matched by Royals closer Jeff Montgomery in '93, and the team record was broken last season by Greg Holland.
  • Jeff Reardon surpassed Quisenberry's AL career saves record in '92.

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