Norm Charlton 1992 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for July 10, 2017

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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.

Sully Baseball Podcast – Washington Relief, The 12 Inning Limit and Remembering Arizona – June 29, 2017

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The Nats need to line up their relievers for October NOW. Meanwhile you can talk me into 12 inning limits on games and I pick the Diamondbacks team that should have won.

Capping the length at 12 innings on this episode of Sully Baseball.

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Dan Quisenberry 1990 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for June 21, 2017

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Dan Quisenberry should never have worn a uniform other than the Kansas City Royals’ uni. He was a quintessential figure in Royals history and one of the most beloved players ever to don those threads.

The Southern California native was hardly a top prospect. Undrafted in 1975, he signed with the Royals organization and didn’t make his big league debut until 1979 when he was 26 years old. While he was toiling in the minor leagues, the Royals lost the ALCS to the Yankees in 1976, 1977 and 1978 with their bullpen letting them down in each series.

Quiz made his debut in 1979 and pitched well, but not in a way that anyone would think was about to change the history of the franchise.

In Spring Training of 1980, Royals manager Jim Frey suggested that Quisenberry threw side armed like Pirates closer Kent Tekulve. The submarine delivery made his change up and sinker ball harder to hit.

While most closers tried to bring heat from the pen in late innings, Quisenberry brought his swooping soft stuff to the 9th. The result was a league leading 33 saves for the AL West champion Royals.

Once again, the Royals faced the Yankees in the ALCS. This time, they had a closer. He allowed 1 earned run in 4 2/3 innings, earning a win in one appearance and throwing 3 2/3 innings for the win in the clinching Game 3 victory. The Royals had finally vanquished the Yankees and won the pennant and had done so with Quisenberry on the mound.

He did not fare as well in the World Series, losing a pair of games in relief, but he finished 5th in the Cy Young vote and was putting together an All Star career.

Throughout the 1980’s, before the bullpen closer became a one inning specialists job, Quisenberry was the elite reliever in the American League. 4 straight years he finished in the top 3 for the Cy Young vote, and in 3 of those years was in the top 10 for the MVP. And he did so pitching nearly 2 innings an appearance.

With the 1985 pennant on the line in Game 6 of the 1985 ALCS in Toronto, Quisenberry wiggled out of trouble for the save. He also came out of the bullpen to close out Game 7, making him at the time the only pitcher to ever clinch a post season series for Kansas City. He was 2 for 2.

In the 1985 World Series, he was credited with the win in the infamous Don Denkinger Game 6. He did not appear in the Game 7 clincher as Bret Saberhagen went the distance with a complete game shutout.

After the 1985 triumph, Quisenberry’s career took a sharp downward turn. He lost the closer job in 1986 and by 1988 was released. The Cardinals signed him to be a set up man and he actually had a fine season in 1989, throwing to a 2.64 ERA over 78 1/3 innings.

He made a cameo in San Francisco for the 1990 season and eventually hung up his spikes.

His post baseball life included writing poetry. A collection of his poems were published in the late 1990s. Sadly he passed away in 1998 from brain cancer.

The clever and witty Quisenberry, always one with a funny quote and beloved by his teammates, did not make it into the Hall of Fame. He barely stayed on the ballot after one go at it, despite similar stats to Bruce Sutter. For a period of time, he was the AL career leader in saves. The Veterans Committee examined his stats twice and still have not let him in.

But he does not need Cooperstown to confirm that he was a great success story, an undrafted superstar who won without the best stuff and someone who finally got the Royals over the hump.