Wilmington, DE - The Wilmington Blue Rocks have had a plethora of talented pitchers climb atop the hill at Frawley Stadium and Glendon Rusch certainly falls in that category. Originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 17th round in 1993, the southpaw made his way to the First State in 1995. With Wilmington, Rusch put together one of the more impressive seasons by a Blue Rocks pitcher. He paced the pitching staff and Carolina League with 14 wins and a dazzling 1.74 ERA in 26 starts. In addition, he whiffed 147 batters compared to walking 34 of them in nearly 166 innings of work.
With his success on the mound, he made the Carolina League All-Star team. In addition, Rusch became the first Blue Rocks pitcher to earn a spot on the Topps Class A All-Star Team and also was named Topps Player of the Month for August of the '95 season. In the Blue Rocks' record book, the 6-foot-2 hurler is still tied for second-most wins in a single season, second in ERA and fifth in strikeouts (147).
Rusch made his big league debut in style on April 6, 1997 against the Minnesota Twins. Outdueling Brad Radke, Rusch spun eight shutout innings and scattered four hits and struck out four. He would make 27 total starts his rookie season and finished 6-9 with a 5.50 ERA. His next two seasons didn't go as planned. In 1998, he went 6-15 with a 5.88 ERA and in '99 he was sent down to the minors and traded to the New York Mets. Rusch returned to the MLB in 2000 and was slated in the Mets' starting rotation.
That season, he went 11-11 with a 4.01 ERA in 30 starts and finished second on the staff with 157 strikeouts. Later that year, Rusch made the Mets' postseason roster and picked up a win in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals when he tossed 3 2/3 innings of shutout baseball in relief. He remained on the roster for the World Series against the New York Yankees. Rusch appeared in three games in the "Subway Series" as a reliever and allowed one run in four innings of work. The Mets ultimately lost the World Series in five games.
Rusch went on to pitch one more season with New York in 2001 and went 8-12 with a 4.63 ERA in 33 starts. In the winter of 2001, Rusch was part of a three-team trade and was sent to Milwaukee. He spent two seasons with the Brewers making 53 starts and went 11-28 with a 5.34 ERA. He inked a contract with the Chicago Cubs and spent 2004-06 with the club. In September of 2006, Rusch was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood clot in his lung which ended his season and his time with the Cubs. In the three seasons in the North Side of Chicago, Rusch posted an even 18-18 record in 103 games including 44 as a starter.
Rusch made a comeback in 2008 and signed with the San Diego Padres and then the Colorado Rockies. In his return, he went a combined 5-5 in 35 games, including nine starts between the two teams. He would finish his playing career in 2009 with the Rockies and appeared in 11 games posting a 2-0 record. Over his 12-year career, the lefty went 67-99 with a 5.04 ERA and spent time with six different teams. He currently serves as the pitching coach for the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Class-A Advanced Affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
Wilmington opens its 2017 campaign at Frawley Stadium on Thursday, April 6 against the Potomac Nationals. Season seats, mini plans and group packages for the Blue Rocks' 25th season are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit the team's website at www.BlueRocks.com. To learn more about what is on tap for the Rocks' 25th season celebration, check out www.BlueRocks/25thseason.com.
25 Years of Blue Rocks Baseball
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.