DP-As you know, Bruce Sutter was just voted into the Hall of Fame, why do you think closers have been slow to get into the Hall?
BH-The save is so watered down now. Sutter, Goose Gossage and those guys would throw 150 innings a year, it was different than today. Those guys earned their saves. Dennis Eckersley changed the modern day save into a one-inning deal, it’s easier to get 40-50 saves now than when those guys played.
DP-Is Bruce Sutter a Hall of Famer?
DP-Is Goose Gossage a Hall of Famer?
DP-Is Lee Smith a Hall of Famer?
BH-Yeah, just because of all those saves and his longevity.
DP-Is Bryan Harvey a Hall of Famer?
BH-Nope, didn’t stay healthy long enough. In my era, I believe you should have 400 plus saves to get in.
DP-Your career ended early due to arm trouble and the “Tommy John” surgery. What advice can you pass along to a young pitcher who is reading this that may allow him to play injury-free?
BH-Honestly, I don’t know if there is a way to avoid it because the throwing motion is so un-natural. Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens had the perfect arm angle and mechanics, they also had strong legs. I would not have had the same success if I’d pitched from the same angle they did, mine was higher but it came at a cost. I would have rather had six or seven good seasons than 20 mediocre ones. Advice? Get with quality pitching instructors as early as you can and try to make your mechanics as good as possible.
DP-In 1991 you won the Rolaids Relief Award for being the best closer in all of baseball, what did that award mean to you?
BH-Pretty exciting. You know, on the final day of the season they came to me to and told me that if I didn’t pitch that day I was assured of winning the award. If I blew a save and Eckersley got a save, I’d finish second. I said, “Hell no, I’m going to pitch!” I struck out the last four hitters of the game for the save and clinch the award. The best thing about the award is that they donated $20,000 to the “Angel Man Syndrome” foundation, a disease my daughter Whitney has.
DP-Baseball players, especially relievers, are well-known for being superstitious. Were there any quirky things you did?
BH-I’d never change my shirt, socks or underwear when things were going well. If I blew a couple of saves, all that would be out the door!
DP-Who was your idol growing up?
BH-I always liked Nolan Ryan, he was fearless. I had the opportunity to meet him, he’s a great guy.
DP-What were your favorite parks to pitch in?
BH-Anaheim and Kansas City, I love the appearance of both places.
DP-What stadium has the rowdiest fans?
BH-Boston, the fans are so close to you in the bullpen, they are all over you.
DP-You walked through the tunnel of every ballpark in Major League Baseball during your career, it was your biggest thrill when you entered…
BH-Yankee Stadium, no comparison. You just think about all the players who wore pinstripes and all the greats who have played there, it gives you goose bumps. Then you walk to the bullpen and pass right by all the monuments…there is just no other place like it.
DP-What is it like to see your career go full circle as you now watch your son’s play?
BH-A lot more exciting for me. I remember calling home after my games and dad would say he’d worn holes in the carpet because he was a nervous wreck. I was never nervous when I played, I just went out and did my job. Now I know what my dad felt like. When my son’s play now, I’m a wreck, I just want to see them have success. Watching them play now is very special for me.
DP-Bryan, this has been fun for me and will be a great piece for our readers. Thanks for your time.