Dan Quisenberry was atypical in just about everything he did. One of the alltime great relief pitchers, he temporarily set the single-season saves record with 45 in 1983 with the Kansas City Royals, five times led the league in saves, and helped the Royals win their first World Series in 1985. A submariner, throwing underhanded with a devastating sinkerball, who seldom threw faster than 85 miles per hour and preferred grounders to strikeouts, Quisenberry was far from the typical reliever.
Neither was Quisenberry typical after he retired in 1990 with 244 career saves and five Fireman of the Year awards from The Sporting News. He turned to social action and poetry. Quisenberry ran an annual charity golf tournament in Kansas City and put great effort into helping the hungry and homeless. He wrote poetry, often about baseball, giving readings and publishing in such magazines as Fan and Spitball.
Quisenberry wrote in his poem “A Career,” published in Spitball, about his former manager Dick Howser succumbing to brain cancer (“He died that summer/we froze and played like statues”). On May 30, 1998, Quisenberry was honored at Kauffman Stadium by about 30,000 fans saddened by the news that he suffered from the same illness. On September 30, death came to the worker for social justice, poet, former great pitcher, and one of the most loved players both during and after his playing days.
See also: Cancer; Periodicals; Poetry.
McCarver, Tim, with Danny Peary. The Perfect
Season: Why 1998 was Baseball’s Greatest
Year. New York: Villard Books, 1999.
Quisenberry, Dan. Poems in Spitball: The Liter-
ary Baseball Magazine, No. 51 (1997):