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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

“I Got Lucky Man” Dennis Eckersley on Surviving His Tough Times

Then on March 30, 1978, near the end of spring training, Eckersley was traded to the Red Sox along with catcher Fred Kendall for an assortment of four players, none of whom wound up altering the Indians’ fortunes.

The same day, his wife Denise, whom he’d married when they were both 18 and with whom he had an infant daughter, Mandee, told him she wanted a divorce. A few months later she told him she wanted to marry his best friend, Indians center fielder Rick Manning….

During a Red Sox-Indians game earlier this season, I saw Eckersley behind the Fenway Park press box gathering intelligence on the Indians from one of the team’s broadcasters. The other guy looked familiar, an ex-ballplayer for sure, a face from a baseball card long since lost. I turned the corner to leave the press box, and then it hit me who it was: Rick Manning.

I mentioned it to Eckersley a few weeks later, after he had brought up the affair between his first wife and his best friend, and the heartbreak and sadness that led to him being traded to the Red Sox. “He’s the father to my daughter,” says Eckersley. “I mean, it’s been 40 years. It’s not about forgiveness. It’s about moving on with your life and living it. We were all young. I was on the road half the time, and I was hardly innocent myself, and suddenly you come home and you’re not that attractive anymore. It was an ugly way to have it happen. It was painful as hell.” He pauses, then says, “[We have] a daughter together. I’ve got to be nice.”

Interview with Eck, well worth the read.

Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: July 16, 2019 at 10:08 PM | 41 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, broadcasters, cubs, hall of fame, red sox

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   1. The_Ex Posted: July 17, 2019 at 09:48 AM (#5862497)
That is a good read.
   2. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 11:18 AM (#5862526)
Concur.
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 17, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5862546)
Toughest paywall on the internet.
   4. Meatwad Posted: July 17, 2019 at 12:23 PM (#5862553)
But worth the money it costs imho
   5. Perry Posted: July 17, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5862560)
Very, very nice story, made me like Eckersley a lot more. And this made me laugh:

His manager in Oakland, Tony La Russa (now a special assistant to Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations), says figuring out what Eck was saying became a team pastime for the A’s. Once, La Russa went out to remove Eckersley from a game. Eckersley told him he had “salad.” La Russa had no idea what he meant — it was Eck-speak for a finesse pitcher’s repertoire, not ideal for a closer — but, wanting to seem hip and figuring Eck was pleading his case, La Russa left him in.
   6. Itchy Row Posted: July 17, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5862565)
he's still the only player in Major League history to have 100 saves and 100 complete games
It looks like he'll hold on to that for a while. The active leader in CG (Sabathia) has 38. Nobody else has more than 25. The only other pitcher who had even 70 saves and 70 CG was Firpo Marberry.
   7. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 17, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5862583)
Yeah, I think so. The last active pitcher with 100 CG was Randy Johnson. With exactly 100 in 603 starts.

Jack Morris retired 25 years ago with 175. I think since then only 4 pitchers have had 100 CG - Johnson, Maddux, Clemens, and Dennis Martinez, none of whom got to 125.

John Smoltz had 53 CG and 154 saves.
   8. Itchy Row Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5862586)
Dave Stieb and Fernando Valenzuela retired after Morris did, and Charlie Hough retired at the same time as Morris, but, yeah, none of them reached 125.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5862589)
Jack Morris retired 25 years ago with 175. I think since then only 4 pitchers have had 100 CG - Johnson, Maddux, Clemens, and Dennis Martinez, none of whom got to 125.


Morris's complete games total is really the only way he stands out among his peers. It's not enough to make him Hall-worthy, but it was interesting just how much he dwarfed everyone around him in the category.
   10. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:18 PM (#5862590)

Yeah, it was a good read. I never knew any of that information about his first marriage and was only vaguely aware of his alcoholism and sobriety before reading that.

How is he as a color guy? The article makes it sound like he would be good, but often popular opinion and the opinion of folks here diverges.
   11. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5862600)
I like him.

edit..he isn't afraid to criticize the team when it's warranted.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5862601)
How is he as a color guy?
Ask David Price.
   13. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:38 PM (#5862603)
Morris's complete games total is really the only way he stands out among his peers. It's not enough to make him Hall-worthy, but it was interesting just how much he dwarfed everyone around him in the category.


Dwarfed everyone around him except Nolan Ryan.
   14. Jay Seaver Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:45 PM (#5862608)
How is he as a color guy? The article makes it sound like he would be good, but often popular opinion and the opinion of folks here diverges.


He is, in my admittedly Boston-influenced opinion, genuinely terrific. As the article points out, he's prepared without feeling the need to throw around whichever bit of trivia he memorized the previous night, he had a long and varied-enough career to have something interesting to say about a lot of things, and his lack of fear of being critical is often more than balanced by his genuine appreciation (and sometimes awe at) just how much talent there is in today's game. His vocabulary is definitely eccentric, enough to make one worry it's a put-on, but seldom feels less than genuine. His games are entertaining rather than just capable.

Again, he's my guy, but I had a sort of terror that NESN would wind up using Steve Lyons to fill in for Jerry Remy's reduced workload even when they had time to plan rather than just go with what they had, and them getting Eck to sign on for more games and to go on the road was a big win.
   15. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:46 PM (#5862609)
How is he as a color guy? The article makes it sound like he would be good, but often popular opinion and the opinion of folks here diverges.


He’s good and well liked by knowledgeable fans and casual fans alike in the Boston area. My feeling is he would be perfect as a Fox or ESPN guy though. He’s got a bit of a shtick going on and when he does a bunch of games in a row I find he becomes a bit grating. I think once a week he would be really popular.
   16. Joe Bivens, Slack Rumped Rutabaga Head Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:46 PM (#5862610)
Ask David Price.


Nah. Let him focus on being the ace of the staff, as long as Sale continues to be yuck.
   17. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5862612)
Even Ryan stopped throwing nearly as many complete games after he left the Angels. During the years they overlapped in the league — where admittedly Ryan was a few years older — Morris beats him 174-106. If you only count 1980-1993, it’s 164-53.
   18. SoSH U at work Posted: July 17, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5862617)
Dwarfed everyone around him except Nolan Ryan.


Looked at that way, you could also include Bert Blyleven. But as Dave notes, both of them had amassed the vast majority of their CGs before Morris picked up his second. I was referring more to those guys who came up around the same time as him or after.
   19. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 17, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5862624)
You're both right. He may not be the best pitcher of the 1980s but he was the best at completing games, that's for sure.
   20. Itchy Row Posted: July 17, 2019 at 03:41 PM (#5862639)
He was efficient too. In 45 of his complete games, Morris didn't have to pitch the bottom of the ninth.
   21. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 17, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5862644)
That's what pitching to the score will do.
   22. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 17, 2019 at 04:02 PM (#5862648)
Morris had 99 CGs on the road, which means his road record in CGs was at best 54-45. That seems odd, given his overall record in CGs was 111-64.
   23. Itchy Row Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:04 PM (#5862690)
He was 52-47 in his road CGs. He lost in the bottom of the 10th twice.
   24. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:11 PM (#5862694)
So he was 59-17 at home. I don't know if that's common, reasonable, or rare. It seems out of whack.
   25. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5862705)
I would think you'd be more likely to pitch a CG loss on the road simply because you are pitching 8 innings instead of 9. Especially in that era when pitchers were more likely to go that deep into games. "Hey Jack, gimme one more inning, if we can rally we'll turn it over to Aurelio or WillIe, if not save the bullpen."

And of course it's possible to pitch a complete game victory without going nine innings.

No one is better than Blue Jay Ryan Feierabend who will get grey ink on his HOF monitor on the basis of a 4 inning start this year.
   26. Itchy Row Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:36 PM (#5862707)
I looked at three of the 100+ CG pitchers mentioned upthread whose careers overlapped with Morris's. His home W-L % in CG is in line with theirs, but his road record is worse than that small sample group.
Morris: .776/.525 Home/Road win-loss %
Nolan Ryan: .774/.683
Dennis Martinez: .841/.694
Bert Blyleven: .737/.648
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:39 PM (#5862708)
And to think he did most of that work playing for a guy who was once known as Captain Hook.

   28. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:45 PM (#5862712)
For what it's worth, in one of those 45 8-inning CGs, he went out for the 9th in a tie game and allowed the winning run before recording an out. But I was surprised to see that (a) it hadn't happened more often than that, and (b) there weren't any 8.1 or 8.2-inning complete games, where he recorded an out or two in the 9th but ended up coughing up the lead. In general, if he went into the 9th with the lead or a tie, he kept it that way. Not sure how common that is.

Anyway, Morris' winning percentage in complete games (both overall and on the road) is low relative to a few other guys I looked at, but it's pretty standard to have a lower W% in CG on the road for the reasons mentioned in #25.

Morris completed more games than almost all of his contemporaries despite allowing more runs than many of them, so in some ways it's not really that surprising. He probably stayed in a lot of games that other guys would have been taken out of.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:54 PM (#5862716)
On the Mets broadcast today they were reviewing a 1985 game in which Ron Darling was allowed to pitch in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, a one run lead, and the bases loaded. Crazy how different things were back then.
   30. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 05:58 PM (#5862718)
You're both right. He may not be the best pitcher of the 1980s but he was the best at completing games, that's for sure.

and yet he only led the league once in CG (in 1990 with 11)
   31. SoSH U at work Posted: July 17, 2019 at 06:14 PM (#5862720)
and yet he only led the league once in CG (in 1990 with 11)


Yeah, it was just a steady stream of racking up CGs (8 times in the Top 5).

   32. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 17, 2019 at 06:38 PM (#5862725)
but it's pretty standard to have a lower W% in CG on the road for the reasons mentioned in #25.


Sure, but his split is twice as large as those other guys.
   33. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 17, 2019 at 06:59 PM (#5862729)
He is, in my admittedly Boston-influenced opinion, genuinely terrific. As the article points out, he's prepared without feeling the need to throw around whichever bit of trivia he memorized the previous night, he had a long and varied-enough career to have something interesting to say about a lot of things, and his lack of fear of being critical is often more than balanced by his genuine appreciation (and sometimes awe at) just how much talent there is in today's game. His vocabulary is definitely eccentric, enough to make one worry it's a put-on, but seldom feels less than genuine. His games are entertaining rather than just capable.


This is really well put. Agree pretty much 100%. Re Lyons, he seems to have toned down A LOT. He is now at least not terrible to listen to. Lou Merloni on the other hand is trash and should never be allowed to open his mouth on any Red Sox related discussion ever again. He really drags down an otherwise superlative NESN radio broadcast.

   34. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: July 17, 2019 at 07:05 PM (#5862732)
Lyons spoke at the opening ceremony of the Cal Ripken League New ENgland Regional U-10 tournament last week. He was TERRIFIC. I’m not a huge fan of him on NESN but he was great with the kids. Hit all the right notes, engaged the kids and entertained the parents and coaches. Really impressed me.

The team I coached finished third. I was really proud of my guys. They busted their asses including a quarterfinal victory that was agreed by all as the game of the tournament, 9-8 in 7 innings.
   35. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 18, 2019 at 09:09 AM (#5862806)
Re Lyons, he seems to have toned down A LOT. He is now at least not terrible to listen to. Lou Merloni on the other hand is trash and should never be allowed to open his mouth on any Red Sox related discussion ever again. He really drags down an otherwise superlative NESN radio broadcast.


Unfortunately to replace Lou Merloni they will have to find another ex-Red Sox player who is at least as Italian as he is.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 18, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5862809)
Doug Mirabelli is available.
   37. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 18, 2019 at 09:42 AM (#5862818)
I don't know, "Doug" sounds a little nontraditional. "Lou Merloni" could have been an Italian ballplayer 80 years ago.

Could he maybe change his name to Frank Mirabelli or Joe Mirabelli? Sal Mirabelli?
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: July 18, 2019 at 09:51 AM (#5862825)
Rico Petrocelli is available.

   39. Jay Seaver Posted: July 18, 2019 at 09:51 AM (#5862826)
Lyons spoke at the opening ceremony of the Cal Ripken League New ENgland Regional U-10 tournament last week. He was TERRIFIC. I’m not a huge fan of him on NESN but he was great with the kids. Hit all the right notes, engaged the kids and entertained the parents and coaches. Really impressed me.

I seem to recall that he did some kid-oriented stuff for Fox back when they first got the MLB rights that was decently-regarded.
   40. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: July 18, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5862831)
Rico used to host a weekend show with a Dick Radatz on WEEI years ago. One time the monster was talking about modern closers when “Dennis” called in to defend modern closers. Yup it was the Eck and they got into it pretty good. My recollection is Eck saying “you don’t think my 60 innings were enough to be MVP” and Radatz responding “no I don’t.” Rico also gave as good as Eck did. It was a great exchange.
   41. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 18, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5862846)
Tony Conigliaro isn't available, but Billy is.

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