The finest relief pitcher of the early to mid 1980s, Quiz was an omen of bad things to come for small, land dwelling critters. Beetles scurried in fear, worms took to the soil and grasshoppers leaped in self-saving acrobatics to avoid the ample amount of ground balls Quiz induced. Although not a power pitcher like most closers, Quiz was just as effective, pitching to contact and allowing his slick-fielding middle infield of Frank White and the light-hitting Buddy Biancalana to absorb those grounders.
Undrafted out of college, the Royals took a flier on Quiz signing him as an amateur free agent. The signing quickly paid off as Dan rocketed through the minor league system, playing for two levels in his first two minor league seasons. Although the submariner couldn’t break a sheet of glass purchased at the Depot of the World’s Thinnest Sheets of Glass with his fastball, he was called up to Kansas City in 1979 and showed effectiveness. As a rookie, Quiz issued just seven walks in 40 innings of work.
The Royals reached the top of the standings in 1980 with Quiz leading the junior circuit in games pitched and saves. The U-571 hurler finished fifth in Cy Young voting and eighth in MVP voting. Although Dan only fanned 37 batters in 127 innings, he was the finest stopper the AL had to offer, finishing a league high 68 games. In the ALCS, Quiz pitched in two games, winning one contest and saving the other. Things weren’t as rosy in the World Series, and the Royals fell to the Phillies with Quiz dropping two games.
In the strike shortened ’81 season, Quiz had a magnificant 1.74 ERA. He made his first All-Star appearance in 1982 when he began a string of four consecutive years in which he led the American League in saves. Quiz notched 35 saves in ’82 but fashioned one of the greatest seasons for accuracy in baseball history. Excessively stingy with the walk, Quiz averaged just 0.088 walks per inning; an unheard of number!
1983 was another fine season for Quiz, leading the American League with 45 saves and 69 games pitched. An All-Star for the second time, Dan finished second in Cy Young voting to LaMarr Hoyt. Continuing to show an uncommon adversity to issuing walks, Quiz averaged just 0.079 walks per inning that season; far superior to Hall of Fame peers Goose Gossage (0.287) and Bruce Sutter (0.337).
The Royals won their division again in 1984 with Quiz leading the AL with 44 saves. The master marksman issued just 12 walks in 129 total innings on a 2.64 ERA. But it was 1985 when Quiz was able to make a return to the World Series and finally dispel the memories of his poor showing in the 1980 Fall Classic. During the season, Quiz led the American League in saves and games finished while finishing third in Cy Young voting (in the four years, from 1982 to 1985, Quiz finished in the Top Three in Cy Young voting every year – Sutter had three years when he was in the Top Three while Gossage had just one). Quiz pitched in four ALCS games against the Blue Jays and added four more games to his total in the Fall Classic, winning a game on a 2.04 ERA against the Cardinals.
In 1986, Quiz began sharing save opportunities with Steve Farr, who had a little more giddy-up to his fastball than Dan. Quiz was able to fashion ERAs of 2.77 in ’86 and 2.76 in 1987 but the Royals began to use a closer-by-committee with Quiz, Farr and Gene Garber. On Independence Day in 1988 the Royals released Quiz and he caught on with the St. Louis Cardinals a few days later. His final solid season came in 1989 when he posted a 2.64 ERA, serving as a setup-man for Todd Worrell.
Quiz died young, courtesy a brain tumor at the age of 45. A Renaissance man, Dan was a noted poet with a quick wit who often gave sportswriters clever quotes. Eager to please fans, a common occurrence at Royals games was Dan showering hot fans with the bullpen hose.
W 56/L 46/PCT .549/SV 244/G 674/IP 1,043/H 1,064/BB 162/SO 379/ERA 2.76