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Retired MLB pitcher, Dennis Eckersley, was born on October 3, 1954 in Northern California. His nickname is "Eck."
Eckersley had success as a starter, but gained his greatest fame as a closer, becoming the first of only two pitchers in Major League history to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career besides John Smoltz.
Dennis Eckersley was elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility. He is also noted as the pitcher who gave up Kirk Gibson's game-winning home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Eckersley was the American League's Cy Young Award winner and the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1992, a season in which he posted 51 saves. Only two relievers had previously accomplished the double feat: Rollie Fingers in 1981 and Willie Hernandez in 1984. Since Eckersley, one other reliever, Éric Gagné, has won Cy Young honors (Gagné won the National League award in 2003 with the Los Angeles Dodgers). His numbers slipped noticeably following 1992: although Eckersley still was among the league leaders in saves, his ERA climbed sharply, and his number of saves never climbed above 36.
Eckersley's incredible short-term dominance of the position was perhaps the most influential aspect of this popularization. He was seen to shut down a game after the eighth inning; he was fresh, cocky, and usually hit his spots. He pointed his finger at an opposing batter after a whiff or a ground out (something Eck was known for because of his great sinker, a pitch he primarily developed after becoming a closer) or at the opposing dugout, and his glare became well-known after he and Boston's Dwight Evans famously battled during the 1988 and 1990 playoffs.
After Eckersley, every team wanted a pitcher who would end a game after eight innings, save their starters from overextending themselves, and give their fans something exciting to look forward to late in the game. Although the value of a closer is still debatable, Eckersley's influence is indisputable; by 2006, the notion of a team without a dedicated closer seemed as ridiculous as a pre-Eckersley team with one. In fact, a complete game by a starter is now rarer than a save by a relief pitcher was 40 or 50 years ago.
Dennis Eckersley's number 43 was retired by the Oakland Athletics in 2005 In 1999, he ranked Number 98 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball "All-Century Team." As mentioned in the early part of this article, on January 6, 2004, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, with 83.2% of the votes. On August 13, 2005, Eckersley's uniform number (43) was officially retired by the Oakland Athletics. The baseball field at his alma mater, Washington High School, has been named in his honor.
Dennis Eckersley currently works as a studio analyst for the Boston Red Sox on NESN. Primarily, Eckersley provides post game coverage, working to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the team's play. Unlike many other commentators, he is willing to point out sloppy play by the team that employs him. He also spends time with kids Jake and Allie. During the summer, Eckersley lives on the Turner Hill golf course in Ipswich, Massachusetts.