Tag Archives: saves

April 3rd in baseball history-SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

1987 | CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – After two and a half mediocre seasons the Chicago Cubs got veteran right-handed starting pitcher Dennis Eckersley off their hands. He was traded to the Oakland A’s for three minor leaguers.

Eckersley won 165 games in 12 seasons, but was 27-26 for the Cubs over 3. The team thought Eckersley’s best days were behind him. He lost more games than he won in ’86, and personal demons caught up with him. Eckersley checked himself into an alcoholism treatment center after the season.

“Eck” didn’t turn a corner, he made a complete about-face. A sober Dennis Eckersley was just getting started-on a second career as a reliever. He would go on to become one of the most dominant closers in history.

The trade to Oakland hit as hard as a hangover. “I’m in shock,” said Eckersley, but he realized a change of scenery can’t hurt, “It’s always nice to get into a new atmosphere. You get pumped up and you’ve got something to prove to other people.” And prove something he did.

“Eck” didn’t turn a corner, he made a complete about-face. A sober Dennis Eckersley was just getting started-on a second career as a reliever. He would go on to become one of the most dominant closers in history.

In his first 12 seasons he started 359 games and saved 3. In his last 12 seasons he saved 387 and started 2. Here’s a good trivia question; Who went ten years without a save but ended up in the Hall of Fame as a closer?

Maybe the Cubs should have taken Eckersley’s checking into alcohol rehab as a good thing.

Top ten Saves leaders in history (as of the start of the 2017season):

  1. Mariano Rivera 652
  2. Trevor Hoffman 601
  3. Lee Smith 478
  4. Francisco Rodriguez 430 (active)
  5. John Franco 424
  6. Billy Wagner 422
  7. Dennis Eckersley 390
  8. Jo Nathan 377 (active)
  9. Jonathan Papelbon 368 (active)
  10. Jeff Reardon 367

Contributing Sources:
MLB Saves leaders
Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1987
More on Dennis Eckersley