Monday, June 1, 2009

1976 Topps #98 - Dennis Eckersley

  • Dennis Eckersley started off as a starter for the Cleveland Indians. He put up win totals of 13, 13, and 14, and threw a n0-hitter in 1977, but was traded to the Boston Red Sox after the 1977 season. Eck's wife was having an affair with Rick Manning (they later married), which created quite a difficult situation.
  • Dennis won 20 games for the Red Sox in 1978 and 17 games in 1979, but didn't pitch as well during the rest of his time in Boston. His fastball was losing speed and it took him a while to develop a slider to compensate.
  • He was traded to the Cubs before the 1984 season as part of the Bill Buckner trade and helped the Cubs to the 1984 NL East title. He was 11-7 in 1985, but fell off badly in 1986. He checked himself into an alcohol rehab clinic after the season after his family played him a videotape taken while he was drunk.
  • Eck was traded to the Oakland A's prior to the 1987 season. At first Tony LaRussa planned to use Dennis as a long man and spot starter, but closer Jay Howell was injured and Eck was put into the closer's spot. Dennis ended up pioneering the role of the "9th inning closer" and was the best closer in the game from 1988-1992. He was the AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner in 1992.
  • Dennis moved on to the Cardinals with LaRussa after the 1995 season. He was the Cards' closer in 1996 and 1997, then went back to Boston for a final season in 1998.
  • Dennis was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2004.
  • Eckersley is now an announcer for the Red Sox, where he is known for some of his on-air slip-ups, and does some work for Turner Broadcasting.
  • Here is a 1988 Sports Illustrated article called "One Eck of a Guy"
  • Here is a link to his Hall of Fame page.

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