May 31, 1992 – Charles Nagy Win, Steve Olin Save
Before John Rocker played Twisted Sister, Chris Perez was the Firestarter, Andrew Miller told hitters to “Beat it,” and before Cody Allen reminded batters that “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” there was the Yellow Submarine. The Municipal Stadium organist would pipe up with a few bars of the Beatles jaunty classic as Steve Olin made his way from the bullpen to the mound.
Much like hockey goalies, closers have always been a bit different. Pitchers with short memories, and more than a few eccentricities probably because they only make the news when they fail.
Steve Olin came to the Indians via the 16th round of the 1987 amatuer draft. Since high school, various coaches had tried to get him to change his delivery and focus on a more traditional pitching style. Olin always insisted that he would make it with the submarine delivery that he felt comfortable with–he said that he learned it skipping stones as a child–or he would not make it at all.
By 1992, Olin was effectively the Indians closer, although manager Mike Hargrove had reservations about using Olin against left-handed hitters.
Charles Nagy was matched up with Jim Abbott for this Sunday afternoon game in Anaheim. Nagy. With the bases full of Angels in the bottom of the first, Rene Gonzales grounded out to second and the only out was the force at second. Two runs scored to put the Tribe in an early hole.
The Indians tied it up on two unearned runs in the top of the second. Both pitchers settled in after this point. Ultimately Nagy would go seven innings, giving up five hits, four walks and only the two runs noted above.
Abbott pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits, while recording four strikeouts. Carlos Baerga would drive in the Indians final two runs on a single in the top of the 5th and a fielder’s choice in the top of the 7th.
Olin was brought in to face Angel’s catcher Lance Parrish. On his fourth pitch, Parrish grounded into a game-ending double play off one of Olin’s submarine sliders. Olin got his 10th save of the season as the Tribe secured the 4-3 victory.
By season’s end, Olin saved 29 games out of 36 opportunities. He set a club record with 72 appearances by a right-handed pitcher while posting an ERA of 2.34. Indians GM John Hart once remarked, “He had the heart of a lion, the guts of a burglar. He courageously threw that fringe stuff up there and got people out.”
Prior to the 1993 season, the Indians had only one off day built into their Spring Training schedule on March 22. Olin, Bob Ojeda, and strength coach Fernando Montes visited newly-signed reliever Steve Crews property on Lake Nellie near Winter Haven. Tragically, all three pitchers were involved in a boat accident after the cookout. Olin and Crews passed away from injuries sustained when the boat struck a neighbor’s dock.
Charles Nagy was particularly affected by the loss of the two young pitchers who treated him as something of a mentor, so it seemed appropriate to note this game which was one of two where Nagy was credited with the victory and Olin with the save.
Honorable Mention Loss: June 4, 1974 – 10 Cent Beer Night