In 1990, in the wake of the Pete Rose suspension and scandal, the Reds and Lou Piniella went wire to wire to win the NL West, beat the Pirates in the NLCS and stunned Oakland with a 4 game sweep to win it all.
And no small reason for that title was the emergence of The Nasty Boys. That is the bullpen that so many other World Series participants have been measured against.
Randy Myers got the saves. Rob Dibble got the quotes. Norm Charlton was the most anonymous of the three but he was no slouch.
And evidently he is no dummy either.
The Sherrif was born in Louisiana but went to high school in Texas. The Expos drafted Charlton as a first rounder in 1984 out of Rice.
As Charlton was moving up the Expos system, the parent team craved infielder Wayne Krenchicki for some reason. Charlton was sent packing to Cincinnati for Krenchicki who played one season in Quebec.
The Reds got a Nasty Boy. It was clear in the first year that Montreal made a mistake. He pitched well for AA Vermont, winning 10 games and keeping his ERA down to 2.83 over 22 starts. He moved up to AAA in 1987 and 1988 and earned his way onto the big league roster. He initially was a starter but in the tumultuous 1989 Reds season, he was converted to a set up man to John Franco and Rob Dibble.
With Rose suspended and Piniella in Cincinnati, a weight was lifted from the franchise in 1990. Franco was dealt to the Mets for Randy Myers and the Reds talented team could just focus on baseball.
From the start, he was a reliable strikeout artist for the Reds, fanning 4 in 2 2/3 innings in his first game of the year. Matched with Dibble and Myers, games were over in the 7th and the Reds never fell out of first place all year long.
Down the stretch, injuries forced Charlton into the rotation and he responded with soem fine outings in the last 2 1/2 months of the season. He threw a 3 hit shutout against the fading defending NL Champion Giants on August 10th and threw 8 shutout frames for his 10th win of the season on August 25th against the eventual East champion Pirates.
When the playoffs showed up, Charlton was back in the pen. It did not start well as he let up the go ahead run and took the loss in Game 1 of the NLCS against Pittsburgh. But he earned the decision in the Game 6 clincher as the Reds went on to the World Series.
He threw a shutout inning in the Reds Game 2 extra inning victory. That turned out to be his lone World Series appearance as the Reds shockingly made quick work of the defending World Champion A’s.
After the 1991 season, Randy Myers was dealt to San Diego and suddenly Charlton got his chance to close. He saved 26 games and earned his first trip to the All Star Game.
Injuries derailed his 1993 and 1994 season but after a failed comeback in Philadelphia, he joined Seattle and his former Reds manager Lou Piniella. He became the Mariners closer as they made their unlikely march to the post season. Charlton’s dynamic September earned him pitcher of the month.
He played in the post season for Seattle in 1995, 1997 and with the 116 win team in 2001. He finished his career in the ALCS for the Mariners with a lifetime post season ERA of 1.08.
Still loved in Cincinnati for helping deliver a title and in Seattle for being part of their most memorable teams, Charlton has his education to fall back on.
He earned 3 college degrees at Rice, one in Phys. Ed, one in Political Science and one in religion. So he can put pray you, out legislate you and climb ropes faster.
He also was an All Star World Champion to, for what that is worth.