The Top 100 Cubs Of All Time - #87 Randy Myers

Amazingly enough, I was unable to locate a photo of Myers pitching for the Cubs -- so, I decided to illustrate this profile with this photo of him throwing for the team for whom he pitched the least -- the Blue Jays.

Profile by BCB reader MadHatterBlues

Randall Kirk Myers, which was his full given name (and what he wound up being called at times by broadcasters), began his playing career with the Mets in 1985, and was lucky enough to be a member of the 1986 World Champs. But it wasn't until 1988 that Myers found his true calling and became a closer. He gathered 50 saves over the next two years as a Met, before being traded to the Reds for the 1990 season.

During his 1989 season with the Mets, Myers would at times come in only to close against certain left-handed hitters. July 30 at Wrigley Field was one of those occasions, as he replaced Rick Aguilera with two out and a runner on to face Mark Grace. Grace, never known as a power hitter, hit a 450-foot home run onto Sheffield Avenue -- at the time, only the second HR he had ever allowed to a lefthanded hitter.

Upon arriving in Cincinnati Myers immediately established himself as one of the league's elite closers. Under manager Lou Piniella, and as a member of the Reds "Nasty Boys" (along with Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton) Myers managed 31 saves to go along with a 2.08 ERA. 1990 also gave Myers his second World Championship as the Reds swept the Oakland Athletics. Remarkably, Myers produced an even higher standard of pitching in the postseason (8 2/3 scoreless innings), and was named the co-MVP of the NLCS.

In `91 Piniella and the Reds experimented with Myers as a starter, a move that proved highly unsuccessful as he posted a record of 6 wins and 13 losses. He was traded to the Padres for a single productive season (38 saves) before landing on the North Side of Chicago.

His debut season for the Cubs was also the best of his career. His dominance from the pen promptly collected what was at the time the second-highest save total ever. Myers' 53 saves easily shattered the National League record of 47 (a record held at that point by former Cubs closer Lee Smith). That record was tied by Trevor Hoffman in 1998 and has since been broken by John Smoltz (55 saves in 2002) and Eric Gagne (55 in 2003). His season also finished in style recording 14 saves in the month of September, setting a club record for a calendar month that still stands today. His outstanding form helped the club compile their first winning season in four years. Myers was named the Rolaids relief man of the year, and it was a well-deserved honor. He also received some notice in the MVP voting (21st place), and a respectable 8th place in the Cy Young running (although that left him a long way behind some guy called Maddux).

Even at that, Myers provoked controversy in his record-breaking season. On August 15, 1993, a sunny Saturday, the Cubs promotion department had concocted "Randy Myers Poster Day", a giveaway of a large photo of the reliever to all fans. As chance would have it, Myers was called on to save the game in the 9th, after Frank Castillo and Jose Bautista had carefully fashioned a 2-0 lead. Randy coughed it up quickly, as you can see from this Retrosheet play-by-play:

GIANTS 9TH: MYERS REPLACED BAUTISTA (PITCHING); Thompson doubled to center; Bonds walked; Williams was called out on strikes; McGee grounded out (pitcher to first) [Thompson to third, Bonds to second]; Benzinger singled to center [Thompson scored, Bonds scored]; Clayton singled to left [Benzinger to second]; Manwaring struck out; 2 R, 3 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Giants 2, Cubs 2.

Just after Benzinger's single tied the game, fans expressed their disgust with Myers:

... a lone fan in the bleachers stood. Holding his Randy Myers poster high above his head and yelling loudly his beliefs about the pitcher's ancestry, he hurled his poster over the wall. Inspired, the multitude stood as one, each brandishing his Randy Myers poster, and proceeded to throw, almost in unison, their posters on to the field below.

And after that, the Cubs stopped giving out promotional items in the bleachers before the game; you'd get a ticket which you could redeem afterwards. This policy stayed in place for over a decade.

The kicker to this, of course, is that with a single, a walk, and another single, the Cubs won the game in the last of the 9th, giving Myers the win.

The 1994 season is all but a statistical footnote these days with that pesky strike, but Myers still managed to squeeze in 21 saves before the curtain came down. He was also selected for the All-Star game and pitched a scoreless ninth before the NL rallied in the bottom of the inning and won in the 10th. Struggling with the strike and the absence of Ryne Sandberg, the Cubs slipped back to their losing ways. But in 1995 with the help of the blossoming Sammy Sosa, the Cubs were on the rebound. In Myers' last season in Chicago, he led the league again with 38 saves, and made it to his 3rd All-Star game. Of course things weren't all rosy for Myers in '95. Luckily for him he practiced martial arts on his off-days. On September 28, with the Cubs still in the wild-card race, Myers surrendered a crucial 8th-inning long ball to James Mouton of the Astros. As Myers was being taken out of the game, a disgruntled fan ran out on the field to show the reliever exactly how he felt about the situation. Myers responded by doing what shortstop Shawon Dunston called "one of those martial arts moves," and pinned the assailant to the turf until authorities hauled him away. There's more on this incident here, and once again, the Cubs wound up bailing Myers out by winning the game, coming from behind in the 8th, 10th and 11th innings. On reading this Ryan Dempster should know exactly what he needs to be working on this off-season.

During the 1998 season Myers was involved in a bizarre transaction; the Blue Jays, for whom he was pitching at the time (and for whom he had 28 saves), waived him, as many teams do at the trading deadline. The Padres claimed him, mainly to prevent him going to a team higher in the standings. Toronto said "OK, he's yours," and the Padres were forced to trade for him. San Diego did wind up in the World Series, but Myers threw poorly for them in both the regular season (6.28 ERA) and in the playoffs, and then retired.

Myers still ranks 7th on the all-time major league saves list, and 3rd for the Cubs. He was the kind of reliever worth his weight in gold these days, and arguably, since he left the Cubs, he has never been properly replaced.

Randy Myers' career stats at baseball-reference.com

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