Countdown To Pitchers And Catchers: #41 Charles Nagy
Mike B. | On 11, Jan 2012
Today continues our countdown to the start of Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Arizona on February 20. We’ll count down the days, profiling a former Indian who wore the corresponding number. Some players will be memorable, others just our favorites and some, the only one we could find who wore that number. Today, we chronicle the career of Charles Nagy.
By Mike Brandyberry
In an era where the Cleveland Indians had many stars, the Tribe had bigger stars, but none more loyal than right handed starting pitcher, Charles Nagy.
Nagy was a first round draft pick by the Tribe in the 1988 MLB Draft from the University of Connecticut. After a quick progression through the Indians farm system, Nagy made his major league debut in late June 1990. He and Albert Belle became the first pieces to the Indians puzzle of the mid-1990s.
In 1992, Nagy had a breakout season, solidifying himself as a quality American League starting pitcher. Nagy was 17-10, with a 2.95 ERA, earning his first All-Star Game appearance. Nagy had a tough 1993 season, however. He battled to make the Opening Day start, the last one at Cleveland Stadium, despite battles with shingles. He’d struggle most of the season with arm issues and miss a large part of the season, but again, battle back quicker than scheduled to start the final game of the season and in Municipal Stadium history.
Nagy moved with the club to Jacobs Field, pitching with newly signed veteran Dennis Martinez in 1994, and also Orel Hershiser in 1995. He was as reliable as any starter, helping the Tribe reach the playoffs for the first time in 41 years. Nagy was 16-6 in 1995, and 17-5 in 1996. With manager Mike Hargrove at the helm of the American League, Nagy started the 1996 All-Star Game in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, he allowed three runs in two innings and was tagged with the loss.
After a 15-11 season in 1997, Nagy won possibly the biggest game of his career when he battled Mike Mussina in Game Six of the American League Championship Series. The Tribe led the series 3-2, but Baltimore was the heavy favorite in the series and a decisive Game Seven would have had all momentum in the Orioles’ hands. Nagy battled Mussina pitch for pitch, each shutting out the opponent until Tony Fernandez homered in extra innings to send the Indians to their second World Series in three seasons.
But the World Series would not be kind to Nagy. After struggling in Game Three of the series, Hargrove would choose to pass Nagy over for Jaret Wright for the decisive Game Seven start. After Wright and the bullpen pitched the Indians into position to win the series, Jose Mesa allowed the Marlins to tie the game and send the contest to extra innings.
Nagy would enter the game in the tenth inning. However after a base hit and an error, Edgar Renteria laced a line drive up the middle to win the series for the Marlins and saddle Nagy with the loss.
After Nagy-like seasons in 1998 and 1999, and his final All-Star Game appearance, arm problems began to be too much for the reliable starter and the Tribe could no longer count on him every fifth day. Over a decade of dependency came to a close in 2002 when he contract expired. Nagy pitched five games in San Diego in 2003 before retiring from baseball.
He pitched 14 seasons, compiling a 129-105 record, with a 4.51 ERA and was named one of the 100 greatest Cleveland Indians in 2000. Nagy is currently the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Photo: Tony Dejak/Associated Press