After four years in the Mets’ unique and charismatic relief corps, Myers became one of the most effective and coveted closers of the nineties, bolstering six clubs’ bullpens over his career. Using the classic stopper repertoire of a devastating fastball and slider, Myers totaled 347 saves in his career, good for fifth on the all-time list when he retired.
Myers began his career in the New York Mets‘ organization, joining the big league team in 1985 under Davey Johnson. Though he got only minimal work that year and the next, the southpaw saw significant action in 1987, when the pitching squad featured strikeout machines David Cone, Dwight Gooden, and reliever Jesse Orosco. Myers immediately joined the K-parade, finishing his first complete year with an average of 11 whiffs per nine innings, which placed him second in the majors among relievers. He completed two more outstanding seasons with the Mets, posting a 14-7 record with 50 saves over the two-year period. As Myers continued to slam the door with brutal efficiency, the Mets made it to the NLCS in 1988, and the lefty went 2-0 for the series, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings in a losing effort against the Dodgers.
Before the 1990 season, Myers was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for fellow lefty closer John Franco in a four-man deal. In Cincinnati, Myers again found himself with a contending team, joining Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton in the bullpen. Spearheaded by Myers, the group became known as “The Nasty Boys,” for their vicious stuff as well as their demeanor. The trio was a key factor in the Reds’ drive to the 1990 World Championship. Myers wrapped up the season with 31 saves (second most in the league) and struck out 98 batters in 86 innings of work. But most impressive was his contribution in the postseason, where he tamed the hard-hitting Pittsburgh and Oakland lineups, with 8 2/3 scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts. He tied an NLCS record with three saves, and closed out the final game of the World Series — earning himself co-MVP status with fellow Nasty Boy Ron Dibble.
Used as a starter for part of the 1991 season by manager Lou Piniella, Myers was out of sorts. Removed from his normal role as late-inning demoralizer, he struggled through an awkward period, finishing the season at 6-13. Though still effective from the pen, Myers was no longer was the chilly assassin of the previous season. By December he was traded to the San Diego Padres in a four-man deal for outfielder and second baseman Bip Roberts.
During his first stint in San Diego, Myers plowed through batters with his usual nonchalance, racking up 38 saves before moving on once again. He joined the Chicago Cubs in December 1992, and promptly collected the second-highest save total ever the next year. Myers’ 53 saves easily shattered the National League record of 47, held by former Cubs closer Lee Smith. His presence helped the club compile their first winning season in four years.
Deeply affected by the strike and the loss of perennial All-Star Ryne Sandberg, Chicago slipped back to their losing ways in 1994. But the indefatigable Myers continued to post good relief numbers, saving 21 before the strike hit. In 1995, under manager Jim Riggleman and with the help of blossoming home-run hitter Sammy Sosa, the Cubs were on the rebound. In Myers’ last season in Chicago, he led the league again with 38 saves.
Myers signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles in December 1995, and created one of the best bullpens in the league along with Armando Benitez and former Met teammate Jesse Orosco, Myers recorded 31 saves in 1996, and the following season enjoyed one of the most immaculate seasons ever enjoyed by a closer. Leading the O’s to their second straight League Championship Series, Myers brutalized the opposition, finishing with a career low 1.51 ERA, converting his last 34 save opportunities and a stunning 45 of 46 overall – the best percentage ever for a reliever with 30 or more chances. In July 1997 he became only the ninth player — and only the second lefty, behind John Franco — to reach the 300-save milestone.
Despite his great success in Baltimore, Myers chose to sign with his sixth team, the Toronto Blue Jays, as a free agent after the 1997 season. Unfortunately, the reliever lost the dominance he had in ’97, and as his ERA ballooned by three runs, lost the closer job to a platoon of Blue Jays relievers including Paul Quantrill. In August 1998, Myers was dealt back to the Padres for Brian Lloyd and a player to be named later.
With the Padres, Myers was relegated to the short middle relief, but remained ineffective. The following April, a torn rotator cuff forced the reliever to the disabled list for the first time ever, and eventually the operating table, where surgery ended his season, and ultimately, his career.
An avid military memorabilia collector, Myers also practiced martial arts in his spare time, a skill that would come in handy in Chicago in 1995. After Myers surrendered a crucial long ball on game, a disgruntled fan ran out on the field to show the reliever exactly how he felt about the situation. Myers responded by doing what shortstop Shawon Dunston called “one of those martial arts moves,” and pinned the assailant to the turf until authorities hauled him away.