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Dennis Eckersley
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'CAREER PATHS': September 2004 

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Cleveland Indians 1975-77: Drafted in the 3rd round of the 1972 draft by Cleveland, Eckersley debuted with the Indians on April 12, 1975.  He caught on to big league life quickly, posting a 13-7 record and outstanding 2.60 ERA in 186 2/3 innings.  He would duplicate that win total in 1976, and top it by in 1977, with 14, while earning his first All Star selection.

Just before the start of the 1978 season, Eckersley was dealt to the Boston Red Sox with Fred Kendall for Rick Wise, Mike Paxton, Ted Cox, and Bo Diaz.

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Boston Red Sox 1978-84: Eck had his best season as a starter in 1978, winning 20 games and losing just 8, while posting a 2.99 ERA.  A second half collapse by Boston however, would deny him a trip to the post season. He would finish 4th in the Cy Young voting following the season.  After winning 17 games and duplicating the 2.99 ERA in 1979, his production began to decline and, after 4 mediocre seasons, he was dealt to the Chicago Cubs with Mike Brumley for Bill Buckner.

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Chicago Cubs 1984-86: After pitching solidly for the NL East champs in 1984, Eckersley won 11 games and posted a 3.08 ERA in 1985.  But the revival didn’t last; in 1986 his ERA ballooned to 4.57.  On April 3, 1987, Eck was sent packing again, this time to Oakland with Dan Rohn for three minor leaguers.

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Eck's page @ Baseball-Almanac.com

Eck's stats @ Baseball-Reference.com

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Oakland Athletics 1987-95: In 1987, Eckersley worked almost exclusively out of the bullpen and picked up 16 saves.  By 1988, thanks to the insight of Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan, his transformation to closer was complete.  He dominated hitters that season, garnering 45 saves for the AL Champs and finished second in the Cy Young voting.  That was just the beginning.  In 1989, Eck saved 33 games, helping the A’s win the World Series.  In 1990, he complied 48 more saves and posted an unheard-of 0.61 ERA as Oakland won a third consecutive pennant.  After saving 43 more games in 1991, Eckersley set a career high with 51 saves and posted a 1.91 ERA for the AL West Champs in 1992.  He was named both AL MVP and Cy Young winner following that season.

“The Eck” remained in Oakland for three more seasons, but saw his save totals decline (36, 19, 29) while his ERA would never dip below the 4.16.  In February 1996, he was dealt to St. Louis for Steve Montgomery.

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St. Louis Cardinals 1996-97: Eckersley rejoined LaRussa and Duncan in St. Louis and recaptured some of the magic.  In 1996, he saved 30 games with a 3.30 ERA and helped the Cards reach the NLCS.  He went onto save 36 games in 1997, his last season as a closer, but his ERA would jump to 3.91.  The 43-year-old signed a free agent contract with Boston in December 1997.

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Boston Red Sox 1998: Back in Boston for one final season, Eckersley posted a 4-1 record with 4.76 ERA and 1 save in 1998.  He would retire following the season.

In his 24 year career, Eck compiled a 197-171 record with a 3.50 ERA and 390 saves (3rd all time) in 1,071 games (2nd all time).  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame with Paul Molitor in 2004.

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