The Card of the Week for January 10-16, 2016 is the 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph of Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley was one of my 2 favorite pitchers to watch as a kid. The other being Dave Stewart. I began watching baseball in the mid-1980s, this was after Eckersley came to the Oakland Athletics and converted into one of the most dominant closers in the game.
Dennis Eckersley 2015 Topps Five Star Autograph
Eckersley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. He is one of two pitchers with 20-win (1978) and 50-save (1992) seasons. Eckersely was selected to the All-Star game 6 times, 2 as a starter and 4 as a closer. He was also named MVP of the 1988 American League Championship Series, saving all 4 of Oakland’s victories against the Boston Red Sox.
His best season came in 1992 when he posted a 7-1 record, struck out 93 batters in 80 innings and saved a major league leading 51 games. That year Eckersley won the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards.
Fun Fact: In his 24 year career, Eckersley only pitched in the National League for 5 years, 3 as a starter and 2 as a reliever. As a starter for the Chicago Cubs (1984-86), Eckersley hit 3 home runs. 1 in 1985 and 2 in 1986. Not bad for a guy with only 181 career at bats.
Eckersley was clearly one of the most dominant pitchers in the game during the 1980s and 1990s. He was instrumental in the success of the Oakland Athletics in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Eckersley will always be one of my favorite pitchers.
On Tuesday, June 10, 2014 the Oakland Athletics announced that 1990 Cy Young Award Winner, 2-time All-Star and 3-time World Series Champ Bob Welch has passed away. The cause of death was unavailable at the time. He was 57.
Bob Welch was the last player in the MLB to win more than 25 games. In 1990 Bob went 27-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 238 innings. In this day and age of baseball, 25 plus wins is an achievement that may never happen again.
Over 17 major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics, Welch amassed a record of 211-146 and posted a 3.47 ERA. He also pitched 28 shutouts to complement his 61 complete games. He was a vital part of Oakland’s run of three World Series Appearances from 1988-90. Bob won World Series rings as a player with Oakland in 1989 and Los Angeles in 1981. He also won a ring as the pitching coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
During the past few seasons Bob had been working with the Oakland Athletics as a special assistant. He worked specifically with the minor league camp, helping to teach them about the game.
Bob Welch is survived by his sons Dylan (25), Riley (23), daughter Kelly (18) and former wife Mary Ellen.
The Elephant Farm mourns the loss of this pitching legend and sends their condolences to the Welch family.
UPDATE: It was reported late Tuesday night that Bob Welch passed away from a heart attack at his home in Seal Beach, CA.