All-Time Indians: Dennis Eckersley

Name: Dennis Lee Eckersley     Position: Starting Pitcher      
Nick Name: Eck               Number: 37        
Tribe Time: 1975-1977           DOB: 10/03/1954      
Accolades: Hall of Fame (2004), 1977 All-Star        
Stats W L W% ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1975) 13 7 0.650 2.61 34 24 6 2 2 186.2 147 54 16 90 152 1.27 7.3 .208
Career 40 32 0.556 3.23 103 87 27 8 3 633.1 516 227 60 222 543 1.17 7.7 .214

Dennis Eckersley is famous for being one of the first single inning closers, ushering in the modern era of relief specialists. Before his Hall of Fame success from 1987 through 1997 that included four All-Star appearances and one Cy Young and MVP winning season, Eck got his start in Cleveland.

He was drafted by the Indians in the third round in 1972 and was a starter from the first. In fact, it wasn't until 1987 with the Athletics that Eckersley first started relieving. In 1975, Eckersley made his Major League debut with the Tribe and quickly joined the starting rotation. The rotation had been strong in 1974 with the Perry brothers leading the way, but the rookie quickly earned his place. In his first Major League start, Eckersley threw the first of 20 career shut outs and he didn't slow down after that. In June, Gaylord Perry was traded to the Texas Rangers and Eckersley slipped into the ace role for the rest of his time with the Indians.

Eckersley's first season was his best and he finished with 13 wins and an ERA of just 2.61. He stepped things up in 1976, throwing 199 innings while still keeping a low, 3.44 ERA. He also struck out 200 batters for a tremendous 9 K/9 as a starter. He repeated this success again in 1977 and it looked like the Indians had found their long term ace. Of course, this wasn't to be. 

Despite years of team control left, the Indians committed another terrible trade, this time sending Eckersley to the Red Sox for Ted Cox, Bo Diaz, Mike Paxton and Rick Wise. Of these, only Wise played enough to even be remembered as an Indian while Eckersley won 78 games with Boston before finally becoming a free agent and moving on to Chicago. Of course, what he is really remembered for is when he became the closer for the Oakland A's where he won the 1989 World Series (and lost the 1988 and 1990 Series).

Once he retired, Eckersley was a first ballot Hall of Famer and is the perfect example to see that when someone is truly a great pitcher, it doesn't matter what inning they throw in. After retiring, he joined the Boston Red Sox TV crew as an analyst and currently works for TBS during their play-off coverage.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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