Delivering in the clutch
Catching up with Dana Kiecker
EAGAN, Minnesota - Down one game to none in the 1990 American League Championship Series the Boston Red Sox turned to an unlikely arm.
After Oakland A's starter Dave Stewart out-dueled Roger Clemens in Game 1, Dana Kiecker found himself on center stage with the entire world watching.
It was quite a situation for Kiecker, considering it was his first year in the Major Leagues. All of Red Sox nation put their hearts and souls into his right-arm.
It certainly was an honor and one of my most memorable baseball experiences without a doubt, said Kiecker. That last month I was pitching probably the best baseball I had been pitching all season long. It was an honor.
Kiecker was named the Game 2 starter because the Red Sox had been forced to use Mike Boddicker in the final game of the season. That matchup with the Chicago White Sox was a must-win game for the Red Sox to ensure a playoff spot.
Regardless of the circumstances, Kiecker made the most of his opportunity. Battling Oakland starter Bob Welch, who went 27-6 that year, Kiecker matched him pitch for pitch and left the game with a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning.
Most of their potency was right-handed hitters from Dave Henderson to Carney Lansford to Jose Canseco to Mark McGwire, said Kiecker. I had good success against right-handers and had come off a good performance against them in Oakland in a game that I had a no-decision in. That game gave me a lot of confidence heading into the ALCS.
Kiecker allowed just one earned run on six hits in the playoff start. He struck out two and walked one. It was a clutch performance when the Red Sox needed it most.
The Fenway crowd was outstanding that night and I had to make sure I did not get to caught up in that, said Kiecker. They pump you up like no other crowd. You get a couple outs, get 0-2 on somebody and you still see it today where they rise to their feet. They are without a doubt the best baseball fans to ever play for.
By the time the game ended, however, Kieckers performance had been wasted. Oakland won Game 2 and ended up sweeping the series.
I still wish I hadnt given up a couple of singles and could have pitched into the seventh or the eighth, said Kiecker. Low and behold we just didnt score enough runs to win those games.
The days, Kiecker is back home in Eagan, Minnesota, a suburb south of St. Paul. He lives with his wife Julie and their daughter Paige, 12, and son, Mitchell, eight.
Kieciker is beginning his 12th year as an executive with UPS, where he is the National Accounts Manager.
I manage 400 million dollars in business with a fairly aggressive sales plan, said Kiecker. I have ten other sales people who work underneath me to make it happen out here in Minnesota. Ive been blessed to be working for a very good company.
Kieckers UPS roots started while he was playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 1988 and 1989. When the season ended, Kiecker became a seasonal UPS driver from September through January.
I made more money driving for UPS as a seasonal delivery driver beginning in September and ending the first week in January than I did playing Minor League baseball, joked Kiecker. It worked out perfect because as soon as the Minor League season was over I was able to come back, start a new job and make a few dollars and then in January start preparing for Spring Training.
In addition to UPS, Kiecker has stayed involved in baseball. He's done television commentary for the St. Paul Saints, an independent baseball team, for the past 12 years.
The St. Paul Saints are an extremely popular independent team, said Kiecker. Kevin Millar, J.D. Drew, and Jack Morris all played there. FOX Sports Net picks up the games. I think they are the only Independent club who televises all their games.
An eighth-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 1983, Kiecker's Major League career and Red Sox career was short-lived. After spending 6 ½ years in the Minor Leagues, Kiecker enjoyed a successful rookie season in 1990. He was 8-9 with a 3.97 ERA in 152 innings of work. He struck out 93 while walking 54 that season.
Kieckers second season was a struggle due to an elbow injury. He was never able to make a full recovery. He went 2-3 in 18 appearances and started only five games. His ERA jumped to 7.36 and in 1992 he was the last player cut from the Red Sox in Spring Training.
Baseball was the best job I ever had, said Kiecker. I lost my effectiveness. My injury forced me to change some mechanics, but when balls dont sink and sliders dont break down and away like they used to before they start getting hit. Thats basically what happened.
In the end, however, there is no disputing that when the Red Sox needed him in the most, Kiecker delivered.