Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dan Naulty

Sent: 1/27/11
Received: 3/18/11
Time: 50 Days
Address: Home
Item Sent: 1996 Ultra, 1997 Upper Deck
Item Received: 1996 Ultra, 1997 Upper Deck.  Both signed in black Sharpie.

Dan Naulty was one of few bright spots for the 1996 Twins pitching staff.  The hard-throwing rookie made the team after an impressive spring and carried that into the regular season.  One of the only pitchers on the team with an ERA under 4.00, he appeared to be well on his way to taking over the closer gig.  He picked up four saves in July before hitting the disabled list.  He missed the rest of the year, and was never the same.  He struggled through the next two seasons with the Twins and hooked on with the Yankees in 1999.  He won a World Series ring that year, even though he was not on the postseason roster.

As it turns out, there was a reason for both his ascension and decline.  Steroids.  Performance enhancing drugs gave him the mid-90s heater that he used to make the big leagues, and they also wreaked havoc on his body, leaving him with several stints on the DL over his short career.  After hitting rock bottom, personally and professionally, he found religion.  (He is now a minister in Washington state.) 

After he was named in the Mitchell Report in 2007, he was as candid as any player in the document.  Among the fascinating stories from that time are an interview with the Star Tribune's LaVelle E. Neal III and Naulty's own first-person account in the NY Daily News.

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