The 98th Greatest Royal of All-Time is Rusty Meachem
Its kind of hard to believe Rusty Meacham makes the list, because I always thought of him as a fringe major leaguer, but he did have two very good seasons out of the bullpen for the Royals, so I suppose that's enough to make it.
Rusty was claimed off waivers from the Detroit Tigers in 1992 and posted a 2.73 ERA in 101 innings of relief, good for a 148 ERA+. I remember him having very good control and throwing sidearm.
He got off to a simply amazing start in 1992 for the Royals. On April 17, in his second appearance for the Royals, the Angels touched him up for a run in three innings. He wouldn't give up another earned run until June 9, stretching 27 scoreless innings. On June 8, his ERA stood at a microscopic 0.28. As late as September, his ERA was 1.98.
In 1993 Rusty had elbow problems much of the year, and threw just 21 innings with an awful 5.57 ERA. He was streaky again in 1994, throwing 22.2 scoreless innings in a row during the summer. But he finished off terribly with a 7.04 ERA after the All-Star break and ended with an ERA of 3.73. In 1995 he was very hittable and posted a 4.98 ERA in 59.2 innings and by June the next year, the Royals had traded him to the bullpen starved Mariners for a minor leaguer.
Rusty was one of my favorite Royals in the early 90s. He was tall and gangly, quirky on the mound, and quirky in interviews. As a kid, I almost always sat in the right field general admission seats, right next to the Royals bullpen. On sweltering August days, Rusty Meacham would continue the tradition carried by Dan Quisenberry and spray the right field fans with the bullpen hose. Every time I saw him approached by fans, he'd be more than happy to sign a baseball. He seemed like a guy that was just thrilled to be in the big leagues. After the Royals traded him in 1996, I still cheered for the guy as he bounced around the minors.
Rusty finally hung em up this winter after pitching last season for Yuma in the Golden Baseball League. He's now the pitching coach for the Nationals' Class A affiliate.
"I wouldn't change anything about my career....It's been one heck of a ride. But baseball owes me nothing, and I'm just trying to give something back."