Love came at about 101st sight. In the meantime, Dan became a very good college pitcher, even though the scouts were more interested in his teammate, John Verhoeven, who went on to pitch for the Twins. "At La Verne, Dan would look up to me," says Verhoeven. "Even when we were both in the American League he would ask me things, and I felt silly telling him because by then the roles had been reversed."
Quisenberry's whimsical nature was evident at La Verne, as Verhoeven, who now operates a baseball school, recalls. "Dan thought he was Harpo Marx," Verhoeven says. "He'd shake hands by offering his leg the way Harpo did."
In his two years at La Verne, Quisenberry was 12-2 and 19-7. His senior year he pitched a remarkable 194 innings and, as a consequence of so much work, dropped his delivery lower and lower until he came sidearm. He was named to the NAIA All-America team. Still, he says, "the scouts were not exactly flocking around the house."
Hines gave Gilhousen a call and asked him if he might be interested in Quisenberry. Gilhousen said yes, there was an opening for a pitcher in Class A at Waterloo, Iowa, but that the kid would have to be at Gilhousen's house within the hour. So Quisenberry drove 10 minutes to Santa Ana in his battered Gremlin, rang the bell, walked in and signed. "I got $500 a month, and the special covenants clause was left blank," he says. "My bonus was a Royals bat that Rosey had in the house, a Royals pen and a Royals lapel button. I was really pretty excited, especially about the lapel button."
On June 22, 1975, after being baptized that morning at a church in Waterloo, Quisenberry made his first professional appearance. He pitched a seven-inning, complete-game 5-3 victory in the opener of a doubleheader against Wausau.
This game was the last one Quisenberry started, not counting one in the winter Mexican League in 1977, which he would like to forget anyway. Waterloo Manager John Sullivan told Quisenberry after the game that he was sending him to the bullpen. "I took it as a demotion," says Quisenberry. "And I hoped some day that I'd be able to get back into the rotation." Sullivan, now a coach with the Blue Jays, says the reason he banished Quisenberry to the pen was because Waterloo had no reliever who could throw strikes. "I figured that was his best chance to make it, but I didn't think he'd ever be in the majors. I'm just glad I was wrong," Sullivan says.
Quisenberry did well enough at Waterloo (2.45 ERA and four saves) to be called up to Double A Jacksonville for eight innings at the end of the season.
The next year he again divided his time between Waterloo and Jacksonville, although Jacksonville came first. He was effective, but nobody in the organization seemed to notice. When the season was over, he and Janie got married. They ended their honeymoon in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where they decided to spend the off-season. They lived in an apartment behind a funeral home. By day, Dan worked in a sporting-goods store. By night, he worked for the funeral home. "Me and another guy would go around picking up dead bodies and throwing them, I'm sorry, putting them in the back of a hearse," he says.
In 1977 Quisenberry pitched solely for Jacksonville, and after the season he and Janie went to Mexico and were perfectly miserable. They were sick the whole time. In 1978, Quisenberry, once more pitching in Jacksonville, saved 15 games and had a 4-2 record and 2.39 ERA. He thought he would be stuck in Double A forever. "I made up my mind that if I didn't get to Triple A that next spring, I was going to quit," he says. "In the winter I went to Fresno Pacific College to get my teaching certificate. That sort of sounds like a cliché, doesn't it? I guess everybody has a story like that."