- December 27, 1939
- 5' 11"
- 190 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-13-1962 with HOU
One of manager Danny Murtaugh’s first new experiments when he began his third tour of duty as manager of the Bucs was to take the Pirates new pitcher, Dave Giusti, who had been a workhorse starter with Houston for the better part of three years before he went to St Louis in 1969, and make him something that wasn’t quite in vogue in major league baseball yet at this time, an effective closer. So successful was Murtaugh’s quest, that by the time the 1976 season began, Dave was the National League’s all-time save leader with 127 (it should be noted that the save rule had only been established in 1969).
Giusti came up with the expansion Houston Colt 45’s (Astros) in 1962 and by 1966 was a workhorse starter, averaging 33 starts a year between 1966 and 1968 while compiling a 37-43 record before being sent to the Cardinals in 1969.
The New York native was 3-7 jumping back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen before being sent to the Pirates in October of ’69 with catcher Dave Ricketts for prospect Carl Taylor.
Cursed with a sub par bullpen, Murtaugh decided to move to Giusti to the pen after the Bucs acquired the pitcher in an attempt to try and strengthen what was probably the team’s biggest weakness. The results of the move were much better than anyone certainly could have imagined as Dave led all National League relievers with 9 wins. He also came through with 26 saves, the second best total in the senior circuit. The hurler finished 4th in the leagues CY Young Award voting while ending up 6th in the MVP race.
As good as ’70 was, the following campaign would be that much better for both the team and the player as the Bucs won the World Championship and Giusti became arguably the best reliever in the league. Giusti not only led the circuit in saves with 30, but was awarded the National League’s Fireman of the Year for his effort. In the ’71 NLCS, Dave became the first NL pitcher to appear in every game as he set a LCS mark with 3 saves. For the entire post season that year, he recorded 4 saves and went, 10 2/3 innings, without giving up a run.
The following season saw Giusti finish 3rd in the NL in saves with 22 and had a microscopic 1.93 ERA, his lowest as a Pirate. In the NLCS, Giusti got the opportunity to send the Bucs back to the World Series. He entered the fifth and deciding game against the Reds in the bottom of the ninth with the team up 3-2. Giusti faced Hall of Famer Johnny Bench to lead off the ninth inning and was in control of the situation as he ran the count to 1 and 2. Dave’s next pitch went over the right field fence to tie the game at three. Giusti was now rattled and gave up two more hits before being replaced by Bob Moose. As the story goes, Moose unleashed a two out bases loaded wild pitch to lose the game and the series 4-3.
Giusti certainly had to be devastated at the turn of events, but came back nonetheless strong in 1973, finishing third in the NL in saves with 20 and going 9-2.
The 34 year old reliever, who has both a BA and MA from Syracuse University in education, reeled off twelve more saves and became the NL’s all-time save leader when he got save number 110. He had 17 more in 1975 before having his worst season ever in 1976 with a 4.32 ERA in 40 games, his lowest in t Pittsburgh with a meager 6 saves.
Following the season, the Syracuse Alumni, was dealt to the A’s along with Doc Medich, Doug Bair, Rick Langford, Tony Armas and Mitchell Page, for primarily Phil Garner. Giusti had a decent run in Oakland with a 2.98 ERA inn 40 games before being sent to the Cubs where he finished his major league career after the 1977 season.
Although he didn’t finish his career in the black and gold, Giusti certainly was a vital part of the championship Pirate teams of the 70’s. Dave also has to go down as one of the greatest moves Murtaugh ever made a move that made Giusti a star.
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