The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
The end of many an Angel game was described by then-radio-broadcaster Al Conin in the same four words “FORKBALL GOT HIM SWINGING!” It was a simple exclamation to affirm that Angels closer Bryan Harvey had done his job yet again.
After the Donnie Moore tragedy, Bryan Harvey’s most crucial accomplishment in Angels lore was restoring the confidence in a great go-to closer. In this role, he paved the way for Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez. He healed one of the franchise’s greatest psychological wound.
He also established many pitching records for Percy and Frankie to meet and match – it is in arriving at Harvey’s greatness that an Angel reliever becomes an Angel Great. Percy is the only Angel with more than 300 Saves for the team, Frankie the only other with more than 200 and Harvey is the only other with more than 100 Saves as an Angel. He had 25 Saves in 1989 and 1990 and then had 46 in 1991 – the fourth best single season mark by an Angel reliever.
Bryan Harvey was the Angels’ Lights-Out closer in an era of a disillusioned Halo Nation – but he was never anything less than inspiring. There was the 1986 collapse, a string of lousy seasons, Donnie Moore had committed suicide, the Dodgers had won the 1988 World Series and a listless franchise seemed to be shrinking into the middle-market visions of Jackie Autry, supplanting the free-agent glitz of her husband. It is a shame that he could not have been part of a division winner – the best team he played for, the 1989 Angels, would have qualified for the Wild Card had it existed back then. Some things are just not meant to be, but it hardly tarnishes Bryan’s Halo. He carried the torch through a rough patch.
Before the 1992 season he signed a 4-year $15.5 Million contract with the Angels that made him the highest paid reliever in all of baseball. Harvey was left exposed in the 1993 expansion draft, the assumption being that this monster contract would be avoided by the foraging Rockies and Marlins, but it wasn’t – Florida nabbed him with their 12h pick. But here, even, Harvey was great to the Halos – his slot of protected players went to emerging minor leaguer Troy Percival – ensuring Percy would not be whisked off to expansionville.
In 2017, a Marlins fan blog, Fish Stripes named him the #48 Marlin of all time, based primarily on his All Star 1993 season.
Harvey was also a hell of a nice person. Prior to the 1990 season, I brought my then 9-year old nephew to a meet and greet with several Angel players. There was about 50 people at the event, and Harvey posed for every photo and signed every baseball with a smile on his face. My nephew was at the end of the line, but Harvey was still going.
To entertain my nephew, I asked Harvey if he could show my nephew how to throw a forkball. Harvey got down on one knee and proceeds to show my nephew the grip, windup and leg placement. I think Harvey had more fun with it than my nephew (who had a smile as wide as his face).
Harvey’s Forkball is still one of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen. A hitter could know it was coming and still not make contact.
He is one of the few Angels closers in our history that didn’t cause me to close my eyes and cross my fingers when he came in the game.
I totally agree. The bottom just fell out of it and it had a great arm-side tail. I still remember that funky shoulder turn delivery. It’s also cool his son Hunter took a long and hard road to make it to the show last year.