The Write Kind of Relief

 

Oh, What a Relief: Jim Brosnan

Jim Brosnan was one of the true pioneers of unvarnished sports journalism. His 1959 expose, The Long Season, while tame by today’s standards, was the first book of its kind, revealing life in the major leagues and preceding by a decade Jim Bouton‘s tell-all best-seller Ball Four.

Jim Brosnan was a key contributor to the Cincinnati Reds’ 1961 pennant. As the Reds’ bullpen ace, Brosnan was 10-4 with a 3.04 ERA and 16 saves.

Jim Brosnan was a key contributor to the Cincinnati Reds’ 1961 pennant. As the Reds’ bullpen ace, Brosnan was 10-4 with a 3.04 ERA and 16 saves.

The publication of The Long Season also coincided with what would be Brosnan’s most effective period as a major league reliever. He proved to be a major contributor to the Cincinnati Reds‘ pennant-winning season of 1961.

Brosnan was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1946 and made his first appearance for the Cubs in 1954, when he went 1-0 in 18 relief appearances. He made the Chicago roster to stay in 1956, posting a 5-9 record as a starter and reliever with a 3.79 ERA. In 1957, working almost entirely out of the Cubs’ bullpen, Brosnan went 5-5 in 41 appearances.

In May of 1958, Brosnan was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for veteran shortstop Al Dark. He went 11-8 that season with a 3.35 ERA, working as both a starter and as a reliever. But from this point in his career on, Brosnan would find himself relied on more and more as a reliever, and with more and more success in that role.

After the start of the 1959 season, Brosnan was traded to the Reds for Hal Jeffcoat. He had a combined record of 9-6 in 1959, and emerged as the Reds’ relief ace in 1960 with a 7-2 record in 57 appearances, all but two in relief. Brosnan posted a 2.36 ERA and recorded 12 saves for the Reds in 1960.

Jim Brosnan’s 1960 memoir, The Long Season, was one of the first sports books to give fans an authentic glimpse of what happened in the clubhouse. It chronicled Brosnan’s 1959 season with the Cardinals and Reds.

Jim Brosnan’s 1960 memoir, The Long Season, was one of the first sports books to give fans an authentic glimpse of what happened in the clubhouse. It chronicled Brosnan’s 1959 season with the Cardinals and Reds.

In 1961, as Cincinnati claimed the National League pennant for the first time in more than two decades, Brosnan had his best season, going 10-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 53 relief appearances. He also posted a career-high 16 saves, closing for a starting rotation that featured Joey Jay, Jim O’Toole and Bob Purkey.

Brosnan went 4-4 for Cincinnati in 1962 with a 3.34 ERA and 13 saves. In 1963 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Dom Zanni, and finished the 1963 season at 3-8 with a combined ERA of 3.13 and 14 saves, all with the White Sox. At the end of the 1963 season he was released by Chicago, and retired at age 33.

During his nine-season major league career, Brosnan compiled a 55-47 record with 67 saves and a 3.54 ERA.

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