Dennis Eckersley: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know



Dennis Eckersley, 60, played Major League Baseball for 24 seasons between 1975 and 1998. He pitched for five teams including the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, Oakland A’s and the St. Louis Cardinals, and was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004. He started his career as a starting pitcher but was later moved to the bullpen where he forged an excellent career as one of the best closers in baseball history.

“Eck” is currently a studio analyst for Red Sox games on NESN. In 2005, his No. 43 was retired by the Oakland A’s, the team with which he won the World Series in 1989 following the historic Loma Prieta earthquake. Eckersley is featured prominently in the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary about that event entitled “The Day the Series Stopped.”

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Dennis Eckersley Was Instrumental in Helping the Oakland A’s Win the 1989 World Series



Eckersley came out of the bullpen to win Game 2 against the San Francisco Giants and was credited with the save in Game 4 as the A’s swept their Bay-area rivals. The 1989 World Series was marked by the historic earthquake that struck prior to Game 3 and halted play for 10 days before baseball resumed.

2. Eckersley is Among the Greatest Pitchers to Ever Play

Eckersley was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005 after a sterling career that began as a starter and ended as one of the most dominant closers in baseball history. Eckersley is one of only two pitchers to ever win 20 games as a starter and save 50 as a closer.

In 24 seasons, Eck was 197-171 with a 3.50 ERA and saved 390 games. As a starter for the Cleveland Indians, Eckersley threw a no-hitter on May 30, 1977, against the California Angels. The final out is below.

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3. Eckersley Was on the Wrong End of One of the Most Famous Home Runs in Baseball History

For all his accolades including winning the 1992 Cy Young, a rarity for a relief pitcher, Eckersley was on the mound when a hobbling Kirk Gibson went yard in the 1988 World Series, which the Dodgers would go on to win in five games. Gibson’s famous walk-off home run won Game 1 of the series. Eckersley was later credited with coining the term “walk-off,” while the at-bat was Gibson’s only plate appearance of the Series.

He has been quoted saying he felt Gibson, injured in the NLCS and not expected to play at all, was going to be an easy out:

“He fouled away the first two pitches, and, after he swung, he looked so feeble,” Eckersley said. “I thought I was going to blow him away. I thought he was a lamb. I’m thinking I’m going to throw him a high fastball and he’s done.”

4. Eckersley Battled Alcoholism Throughout his Career



Before Oakland manager Tony LaRussa turned him into a relief pitcher, Eckersley struggled as a starter in Boston. As his drinking became apparent to teammates in the aftermath of his first broken marriage, he struggled on the mound and was subsequently traded to the Cubs in 1984. During a visit with his daughter from his first marriage, Eckersley was videotaped while he was drunk by a family member. Watching the tape served as a wake-up call to him and he went to rehab to dry out.

Five years later, Eckersley testified with his brother Glen on trial for attempted murder and made an emotional plea to the judge. He cited the family’s history with alcohol abuse and reasoned that was why his brother was involved in kidnapping and stabbing a woman. Glen Eckersley was sentenced to 40 years in jail.

5. He is Married to Jennifer Eckersley

Dennis Eckersley has been married twice before. His first wife, Denise, left him in 1978 with their 2-year-old daughter for his former Cleveland Indians teammate, Rick Manning. The awkward situation led to his trade to Boston later that season. Eckersley eventually married model Nancy O’Neill. Jennifer, a former lobbyist and public policy advocate, is his third wife. They are pictured above.

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