A good idea at the time
APRIL 3, 1987
After two and a half mediocre seasons the
Cubs got veteran right-handed starter Dennis Eckersley off their hands. He was traded to the
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:
Lee Smith 478
Dennis Eckersley 390
Jeff Reardon 367
Rangy Myers 347
Rollie Finger 341
John Wetteland 330
Troy Percival (tie)
10. Roberto Hernandez (tie)
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.