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"I don't blame you. If I gave up a home run like you did last night, I vouldn't vant to be recognized, either." Quisenberry had, in fact, served up a ninth-inning, game-tying home-run ball to the Indians' Andre Thornton the night before.
"I enjoy his sense of humor," says Howser. "I enjoy his pitching even more."
Quisenberry's, of course, is what sets him apart. If you're a batter, you see him wind up like a normal pitcher, but then he pivots, does a fleeting imitation of a flamingo, steps toward third base, pulls his right hand out from what seems like his left back pocket, whips his arm around and throws from what seems like the tops of Third Baseman Brett's shoes. Then he follows through with a little jump that leaves him squarely facing the plate. "He comes," says Milwaukee's Rick Manning, "from a different zone."
Submariners—a silly way to describe them, actually—are not to be confused with sidearmers. In the minor leagues they call what sidearmers do "throwing Laredo," Laredo being in the bottom of Texas. Quisenberry says his style is more "throwing Sydney."
There used to be more underneathers than there are today. In fact, in the early days of baseball, pitchers weren't allowed to bring their arms above their waists, so Quisenberry and Tekulve can probably claim Candy Cummings and John Montgomery Ward as their ancestors.
Their patron saint of underneathers, if they had such a thing, would be Elden Auker, a successful pitcher in the American League in the '30s and early '40s. Auker, who shares the nickname Big Six with Christy Mathewson, went 18-7 for the Tigers in his best year, 1935. He's alive and well and living in Florida, and he watches Quisenberry on television. The Negro leagues also had a standout submariner, Webster McDonald, during Auker's era. And there was Carl Mays, who. though he won 208 games in 15 major league seasons, is best remembered for a submarine fastball that killed Ray Chapman in 1920.
The supply of below-the-waisters, almost exclusively relievers, began to trickle out in the '50s. Dick Hyde was a leading practitioner and served the Senators well out of the bullpen. Jim Lehew had cups of coffee with the Orioles in '61 and '62. Ted Abernathy had a long and fruitful career from down under, starting with the Senators in '55 and finishing with the Royals in '72, as did Cecil Upshaw, who pitched mostly for the Braves in the '60s and '70s. Tekulve brought the submariner back into prominence in the late '70s by saving games for the Pirates.
Considering the success of Tekulve and Quisenberry and the anatomical and kinesiological soundness of throwing underhand, one might wonder why there aren't more of these fellows in the major leagues. (The arm naturally hangs down; the overhand motion is more stressful on both the bony and soft structures of the shoulder and arm, especially the elbow.) "Most guys would love to throw submarine," says Dave Beard, Oakland's hard-throwing reliever, "but it's a lot harder than it looks. For Quisenberry to be able to get the ball over for strikes with something on it is incredible to me." A few years ago, Don Gullett, the former Reds and Yankees fastballer, was trying to come back from a sore arm and played around with a submarine pitch before giving-up altogether.
Much of Quisenberry's effectiveness is derived from batters' unfamiliarity with his motion—it's a good thing for both him and Tekulve that they're in different leagues. But that doesn't explain all his success.