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Dennis Eckersley

Dennis Eckersley

Eckersley has to be one of the two or three least likely Hall of Famers in baseball history. At the age of 31 he was traded for three minor leaguers. At that point in his career, the question about Eckersley was: could he survive his 30s with a fastball that wasn't crackling at the same clip as it had when he was a young gunslinger? It wasn't clear that anyone would give him a slot in their rotation. Oakland didn't, instead trying him in situations out of their bullpen as insurance against a thin rotation.

Eck's personality was uniquely qualified for the closer's role, maybe more so than an other pitcher in history besides Goose Gossage. He was arrogant on the mound, cocksure and antagonistic. Nine innings of that had worn thin, but Eck became adept at facing a few batters each night to seal a victory. After 370 saves in a ten-year stretch of artful mastery, he was bound for Cooperstown.

From June of 1990 to April of 1991, Eckersley twice went 18 straight games without allowing a run.