Monday, February 20, 2012

DAHOF Top 100 -- #42 Dennis Eckersley

By any and all measurements, Dennis Eckersley had one heck of a baseball career on his road to Cooperstown. He was the first pitcher in major league history with 100 complete games and 100+ saves. He also pitched in post season games for four different clubs.

During the first half of his 24-year big league career, Eck was a top of the rotation starter for the Indians, Red Sox, and Cubs. He won over 150 games as a starter, including a no-hitter in 1977 against the California Angels and a 20 win season with the 1978 Red Sox. Eck made the All-Star team in 1977 and was the starter in the 1982 mid-summer classic in Montreal. During this time, he also battled alcoholism and a shattered marriage in which his best friend (Indians teammate, Rick Manning) was having an affair with his wife.

Over the final 12 years of his career, he transitioned into one of the best closers in history saving nearly 400 games while leading his hometown Oakland A's to four American League West titles, three American League pennants, and one World Championship. During the six-year stretch from 1988-93, Eckersley dominated opposing batters like no one ever has when he struck out 458 while walking just 51.

In 1988 he was named the MVP of the 1988 ALCS as his A's beat swept the Red Sox. Eck is best remembered for giving up a walk off home-run to the Dodgers Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The next season, he redeemed himself when he was on the mound and recorded the last out of the 1989 World Series against the Giants. He earned both Cy Young and MVP honors in 1992, when he saved 51 games.

Eckersley Hall of Fame speech from 2004.


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