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Dennis Eckersley

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Dennis Lee Eckersley

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Dennis Eckersley is one of only a few pitchers to excel as both a starter and a closer. His 390 saves put him in the top 5 of all time, while his 197 victories put him close to the top 100 of all time.

He made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1975. On May 30, 1977, he pitched a no-hitter against the California Angels.

After three solid seasons with the Indians, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1978. That year he won 20 games for the Sox and was the team's ace, although the task of pitching the decisive one-game playoff against the New York Yankees on October 2nd fell to his teammate Mike Torrez, since Eckersley had earned a key win in a start 48 hours earlier. He remained a mainstay in the Boston rotation until 1984, getting the start in the 1982 All-Star Game, until he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Bill Buckner.

He won 10 games for the Cubs in 1984 and helped them to win their division. He remained in the Cubs' rotation for the next two seasons, and was traded to the Oakland Athletics for three minor leaguers just before the start of the 1987 season.

Oakland manager Tony LaRussa decided to convert Eckersley into a reliever, and he went on to become one of the most dominating firemen in baseball for the next decade. He notched over 30 saves every year from 1988 to 1993, and Oakland reached the World Series in 1988, 1989, and 1990. In the 1988 ALCS, he saved all four games as the A's swept his former team, the Red Sox. Yet the most remembered moment of Eckersley's career in those years was when he gave up a game-winning home run to a hobbled Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. In 1990, he had a minuscule 0.61 ERA; that ERA was a record for a pitcher with 50 or more innings until Fernando Rodney put up an ERA of 0.60 in 2012. Eckersley also became the first pitcher since at least 1900 to begin a season with 30 strikeouts and no walks; that mark would hold for 23 years until Adam Wainwright topped it. In 1992, he recorded 51 saves and won the American League Cy Young Award. Eckersley also was named MVP; it would be 19 years until another pitcher, Justin Verlander, won a MVP Award in the majors.

Before the 1996 season, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He returned to the Boston Red Sox to finish his career in 1998.

Eckersley saved 57 Bob Welch wins in his career, a record for a pitcher combo until Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte broke it in 2009.

Eckersley was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 6, 2004 by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

He is currently a post-game TV broadcaster for the Red Sox on NESN.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 6-time AL All-Star (1977, 1982, 1988 & 1990-1992)
  • AL MVP (1992)
  • AL Cy Young Award Winner (1992)
  • 3-time AL Reliever of the Year Award Winner (1988, 1991 & 1992)
  • 2-time AL Rolaids Relief Award Winner (1988 & 1992)
  • 1988 ALCS MVP
  • 2-time AL Saves Leader (1988 & 1992)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1978 & 1979)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1978)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 6 (1977-1979, 1982, 1984 & 1986)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1976)
  • 30 Saves Seasons: 8 (1988-1993, 1996 & 1997)
  • 40 Saves Seasons: 4 (1988 & 1990-1992)
  • 50 Saves Seasons: 1 (1992)
  • Won a World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1989
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2004


AL MVP
1991 1992 1993
Cal Ripken, Jr Dennis Eckersley Frank Thomas
AL Cy Young Award
1991 1992 1993
Roger Clemens Dennis Eckersley Jack McDowell

[edit] Records Held

  • Games pitched, right-hander, career, 1071

[edit] Further Reading

  • Dennis Eckersley (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, February 1992, pp. 79-81. [1]
  • Rick Sorci: "Baseball Profile: Pitcher Dennis Eckersley", Baseball Digest, July 1992, p. 65. [2]

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