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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jeff Shaw, Changed Gears - 33

Jeff Shaw joined his new Dodgers team in mid-1998 and he quickly set to work, converting each of his first five save opportunities, The Los Angeles Times wrote.

"I think it's going pretty well," Shaw told The Times. "You never go into a new situation totally comfortable, because it just doesn't work that way, or it doesn't work that way usually."

Shaw ended up getting really comfortable for the Dodgers. He saved 25 games for the Dodgers that year, 48 total between on the year. He then saved no fewer than 27 each year over the next three. In 2001, he saved 43.

By the time he was done, Shaw had the Dodgers career save record, with 129. He's now second on that list behind Eric Gagne.

In all, Shaw ended his career with 203 major league saves. He also appeared on two major league all-star teams.

Shaw's career began in 1986, taken by the Indians as the first pick in the January draft out of the University of Rio Grande and Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.

Shaw drew the notice of scouts after upping the speed on his fastball from the mid-80s to 93 MPH, according to The Associated Press.

With the Indians, Shaw started at short-season Batavia. He also began as a starter. In 14 outings, 12 starts, he went 8-4, with a 2.44 ERA.

He made single-A Waterloo in 1987, then AA Williamsport in 1988 and then AAA Colorado Springs in 1990.

Shaw also made his major league debut in 1990. He got 12 appearances in Cleveland, nine starts. He had a 6.66 ERA and a 3-4 record.

Shaw started only 10 other major league games, his last came in 1993 for the Expos. In the meantime, he got into 29 total games in 1991 and then 55 in 1993 with Montreal. In 1994, Shaw got into 46 games for Montreal in that club's best season. He saved three games.

To The AP later, Shaw marked that 1993 season with the Expos as a turning point for his early struggles.

"Since the '93 season, I've known basically what I could get guys out on and what I couldn't," Shaw told The AP. "It's becoming more mature and knowing what you can do as a pitcher and as a person."

Shaw spoke then having just joined the Reds for spring 1996 by way of the White Sox. Shaw got into a career-high 78 games for the Reds that year, posting a 2.49 ERA.

In 1997, Shaw became the Reds' closer. In another 78 outings, he saved a league-best 42. He saved another 48 in 1998. He also got his first all-star nod. 

Early that July, though, just before the All-Star Game, Shaw was traded to the Dodgers for two players, one a young player named Paul Konerko. Shaw would have preferred to stay in his home state of Cincinnati to be close to his family, he told The AP.

"That will probably be the hardest thing," Shaw told The AP. "It won't be the moving and going to Los Angeles and the playing situation, because I can handle that."

And he did handle that, getting those 25 saves for the Dodgers to end the season. He kept it up through 2001, his final season as a pro. In that final season, he saved another 43 games and made his second All-Star team. But he didn't come back.

That September, Shaw gave hints to The South Florida Sun Sentinel as to why. In baseball, he said, the game usually comes first, then family. He didn't believe that should be the case.

"That's just the way it is," Shaw told The Sun Sentinel. "But when you get older, I think it kind of changes gears. It goes back to the family. One of these days your baseball career is going to be over. It's inevitable. It's going to end, and what are you going to have? That's the way I look at it."

Since 2011, Shaw has been back at pro games. He's been back watching family. His son Travis Shaw has spent four seasons in the Red Sox organization. He made AAA Pawtucket for the first time in 2014.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,752
Made the Majors: 829 - 47.3%-X
Never Made Majors: 923-52.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 359-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:209

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