Dan Quisenberry was perhaps the greatest submarine style pitcher to ever grace the fields of Major League Baseball. A submarine style thrower is a very unorthodox method of throwing the baseball. The pitcher’s arm actually drops down to a three-quarter sidearm or an underhand motion to where his knuckles almost scrape the dirt on the mound during delivery. To see this type of rare delivery click here for a 22 second video (you will love the Halloween music in the background-after all, it’s Mike Myers pitching). To see the actual submarine style of Dan Quisenberry click here and advance to the 1:52 mark for some footage.
“Quiz” learned new way of throwing from Pirates’ Tekulve:
The “Quiz”, as his teammates called him, was born on February 7, 1953 in Santa Monica, California. Quisenberry signed with the Kansas City Royals in 1975 as a free agent. Even though Quisenberry put up decent numbers as a rookie reliever (3.15 ERA over 32 games) he was not very overpowering (13 strikeouts in 40 innings). Due to manager Jim Frey’s concern over Quisenberry’s lack of velocity he suggested to Quisenberry that he should adopt a more deceptive throwing motion similar to that of cross league submarine style pitcher Kent Tekulve of the Pittsburgh Pirates. What happened after that is history.
At first, learning the new and rare unorthodox style was frustrating for Quisenberry, but after he became familiar with it he became the most dominant closer in the Major Leagues from 1980-1985. Here are a few noteworthy accomplishments:
1) His 45 saves set the MLB record in 1983.
2) First player to have two straight seasons with over 40 saves (44 in 1984).
3) World Series Champion (1985).
4) Three-time all-star.
5) Five-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award.
Known for his superb control Quisenberry only walked 11 batters in 139 innings in 1983 and only 23 batters over in 268.1 innings from 1983-1984. He only hit 7 batters in 12 seasons or over 1043.1 innings. If you threw out the 3 batters he hit in 1986, then he only hit 4 over 11 seasons (many hit that mark by the All-Star break of any given year). He had 7 seasons where he did not hit one batter.
Healthy as a lark:
Quisenberry was also considered to be Mr. Dependable as he never once was placed on the disabled list in his 12 years of MLB service: Royals (79′-88), Cardinals (88′-89′), and Giants (90′). It wasn’t until 1990 when Quisenberry tore his rotator cuff that he finally called it quits and retired. Quisenberry never made the Hall of Fame even though he was one of the greatest relievers in his era.
On September 30, at the young age of 45 Dan Quisenberry died from a brain tumor that he had been battling with throughout the year. He left behind a wife, Janie, a daughter, Alysia, and a son, David.
Irony would have it that I would get to see Dan Quisenberry in person on Monday, June 17, 1985 at Royals Stadium for my first Major League baseball game at the young age of 15. In typical Dan Quisenberry fashion and with typical submarine results, two of the batters grounded out in the ninth inning (the submarine motion tends to produce a sinkerball that is difficult for the batter to lift the ball into the air and therefore ends up being driven into the ground for a groundout). Quisenberry did give up two hits, but no runs. Even though the Royals won 10-3 and only put them one game above .500 for the season (31-30), they would end up winning a franchise first World Series later that year.
Dan Quisenberry was known for a great sense of humor and could even poke fun at himself. One of his famous quotes was, “I found a delivery in my flaw,” according to baseball-almanac.com.
Quisenberry loved poetry and even published a poetry book entitled On Days Like This in 1998.
Submarine style pitchers are a dying breed. A few of the modern day submariners are Chad Bradford (Athletics), Jeff Nelson (Rangers) and Byung-Hyun Kim (Red Sox).