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Dennis Eckersley – 1976 Topps #98

Dennis Lee Eckersley (born October 3, 1954 in Oakland, California), nicknamed “Eck”, is a former American Major League Baseball pitcher. 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 (the other being John Smoltz). He 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 a dramatic, walk-off home run (a phrase Eckersley coined) to the injured Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Eckersley was the most dominant closer in the game from 1988 to 1992, finishing first in the A.L. in saves twice, second two other times, and third once. He saved 220 games during the five years and never posted an ERA higher than 2.96. He gave up five earned runs in the entire 1990 season, resulting in a microscopic 0.61 ERA. Eckersley’s control, which had always been above average even when he was not otherwise pitching well, became his trademark; he walked only three batters in 57.2 innings in 1989, four batters in 73.1 innings in 1990, and nine batters in 76 innings in 1991. In his 1990 season, Eckersley became the only relief pitcher in baseball history to have more saves than baserunners allowed.

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