The first pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the June 1983 draft, the 6'5" Plesac was used exclusively as a starter in the minors but became one of the American League's premier relievers after his arrival in 1986. Using a 95-mph fastball, devastating slider, and remarkable control, he logged a 10-7 mark with 14 saves as a rookie. Though he injured his left elbow shagging flies in August 1987, he finished with 23 saves.
Plesac was knocked out again in August 1988, this time with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, but set a Brewers record for saves in a season by a lefthander, with 30. Firmly entrenched as Milwaukee's closer, he was extremely consistent between 1988 and 1991, saving between 23 and 33 games each season.
Near the end of the 1991 campaign, the Brewers elected to try Plesac as a starter. The experiment ended after four starts in 1992 that resulted in an ERA of 5.14, and Plesac was moved back to the pen. He regained his effectiveness there, posting a 2.17 ERA as a reliever, including 1.55 in the second half.
Plesac was relatively effective for the Pirates and even closed some games in 1996. But later that season, he was traded in a monster nine-player deal that sent him, Carlos Garcia, and Orlando Merced to the Toronto Blue Jays for six prospects, including Brandon Cromer and Jose Silva. Acquired to help the Jays into the playoffs, Plesac was solid in 1997 and '98, posting excellent strikeout numbers while mostly being utilized against left-handed batters. But he was unable to help Toronto overtake either the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
In one of the more lopsided trades in the '90's, the Jays shipped an aging Plesac to the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 12, 1999 in exchange for infielder Tony Batista and right-handed reliever John Frascatore. Plesac pitched adequately for the D'Backs, but Batista bashed a combined 72 home runs between the '99 and 2000 seasons. Plesac returned to the Blue Jays for the 2001 season, signing a one-year deal in December 2000.
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»May 28, 1988:
In his first start since 1981, Milwaukee's Odell Jones no-hits the Indians for 81/3 innings before allowing a pinch single to Ron Washington. Dan Plesac saves the 2–0 victory.
»June 12, 1990: Baltimore wins in dramatic fashion, beating Milwaukee, 4–3 in 10 innings. Dan Plesac serves up a 2-out home run in the 9th to Mickey Tettleton which ties the game, then tees up a leadoff homer to Randy Milligan in the 10th. Orioles SS Cal Ripken Jr. plays in his 1,308th consecutive game to move past Everett Scott into 2nd place on the all-time list. By passing Scott, Ripken sets a record for consecutive games at one position. Lou Gehrig's longest was 885 games at 1B.
»June 29, 1991:
The visiting Yankees score three in the 9th off Dan Plesac to beat Milwaukee, 9–8. Kevin Maas and Jesse Barfield homer for the Bombers. Teddy Higuera (3–2), in the first year of a $13 million, 4-year contract pitches seven innings, allowing three runs. Higuera, who started the year on the DL, will go on the DL again when a significant tear to his rotary cuff is discovered. This is his last ML appearance.
»September 14, 1991:
In the Tigers' 6-4 win over the Brewers, Detroit's Cecil Fielder hits a 502-foot home run, which is believed to be the 1st ball ever hit out of Milwaukee's County Stadium, off Dan Plesac. The ball lands in the back of a truck driven by Gary Schumacher, who doesn't stop until he is near Madison.
»November 14, 1996:
The Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates complete a 9-player swap with the Jays acquiring the 2B they are looking for in 29-year-old Carlos Garcia. In addition, the Jays pick up OF Orlando Merced and reliever Dan Plesac. The Bucs receive six prospects, including pitchers Jose Pett and Jose Silva, along with Knoxville IF Brandon Cromer and three players to be named.
»September 17, 1997: Mo Vaughn responds to the boos of the crowd with a two-run home run in the eighth inning to lead Boston past Toronto, 4–3. Vaughn, who makes it 4-2 with the homer off Dan Plesac, is booed during introductions and during his first three at-bats in response to his comments Monday that he does not want to return to the Red Sox next season.
»May 26, 2002:
The Phillies and Blue Jays exchange pitchers with Cliff Politte (2-0) going to Toronto and Dan Plesac to Philadelphia. The high-priced 40-year-old Plesac had declared that this would be his last year.