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APRIL 3 (1987) - A tale*
By Bill Grimes
Apr 3, 2007 - 8:08 PM

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A good idea at the time

CHICAGO , ILLINOIS , APRIL 3, 1987 After two and a half mediocre seasons the Chicago Cubs got veteran right-handed starter Dennis Eckersley off their hands. He was traded to the Oakland A’s for three minor leaguers on this day in baseball history. Eckersley won 165 games in 12 seasons, but was just 27 and 26 for the Cubs over 3.

 

The Cubs thought Eckersley’s best days were behind him. He lost more games than he won in ’86, and some personal demons caught up to him. After the season he checked himself into an alcoholism treatment center.

 

When the trade came, it hit as hard as a hangover. “ I'm in shock," said Eckersley, but he also realized the benefits of a change of scenery, “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. A sober 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. “Eck” didn’t turn a corner, he made a complete about-face. In his first 12 seasons he started 359 games and saved 3. In his last 12 seasons he saved 387 and started 2. Maybe the Cubs should have taken Eckersley’s checking into alcohol rehab as a good thing.

  Top ten Saves leaders in history:

1.        Lee Smith                                             478

2.        Trevor Hoffman (active)                    436

3.        John Franco (active)                           424

4.        Dennis Eckersley                                390

5.        Mariano Rivera (active)                      379

6.        Jeff Reardon                                        367

7.        Rangy Myers                                        347

8.        Rollie Finger                                          341

9.        John Wetteland                                   330

10.    Troy Percival (tie) ?                            324

10.   Roberto Hernandez (tie) (active)      324

  • Eckersley went ten years without a save and still made it into the Hall of Fame as a closer.

  • Bobby Thigpen holds the record for the most saves in a season with 57 for the White Sox in 1990.
  • Bobby Thigpen holds the record for the most saves in a season with 57 for the White Sox in 1990.
Contributing Sources:

 

Chicago Tribune

http://www.baseball-almanac.com

www.wikipedia.com



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