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 January 8, 2014 Major League Baseball announced the results of the Hall of Fame voting for the Class of 2014. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014 are: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. These three All-Stars will be joined by Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox as the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. It is a good year for the Atlanta Braves as 3 key people of their dominant years during the 1990s will be enshrined.
Frank Thomas played the first 16 years of his career in the southside of Chicago with the White Sox. After being sidelined with injury-plagued seasons in 2004 and 2005, Frank made a huge comeback with the Oakland Athletics in 2006. He hit .270 with 39 HR and 114 RBI.
Here is a quick glance at the stats for the 3 new inductees.
Greg Maddux: 355-227, 3.16 ERA, 3371 SO, 999BB, 1.143 WHIP
Tom Glavine: 305-203, 3.54 ERA, 2607 SO, 1500BB, 1.314 WHIP
Frank Thomas: .301 BA, 2468 H, 495 2B, 521 HR, 1704 RBI, .974 OPS
One interesting question remains: Will Greg Maddux be enshrined as a Chicago Cub or an Atlanta Brave? No official announcement has been made.
After a self-imposed hiatus I am pleased to announce that the Elephant Farm is back. We have a lot to cover, so it is my hope that over the next few weeks we can get caught up. There were moves-a-plenty during the Winter Meetings, today the Hall of Fame announcements were made and in just a few shorts weeks pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training camps. We will also revisit the revamped Top 20 Prospect list. I have a lot planned so let’s hope we can get caught up before baseball resumes to full action in the Spring.
Three of the greatest managers of the past generation headline the Hall of Fame’s Expansion Era Ballot. Long-time Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre and Oakland Athletics manager Tony LaRussa appear on the ballot for the first time.
Tony began his managerial tenure with the Chicago White Sox, who he led from 1979 until halfway through 1986. His record with the White Sox was 522-510 (.506). He led the them to a first place finish in 1983. After leaving the White Sox LaRussa took the job with the Oakland Athletics. This was the team where his career would blossom. He would be with the Athletics from 1986 until 1995. Tony’s record during his tenure was 798-673 (.542). He led the Athletics to 4 1st place finishes (1988-90, 92), 3 American League Pennant (1988-90) and 1 World Series victory in 1989.
After leaving Oakland, Tony took the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals where Tony would finish out his managerial career. Tony was with the Cardinals from 1996 until 2011. His record was 1408-1182 (.544). He would lead the Cardinals to 7 first place finishes (1996, 2000, 02, 04-06 & 09), 3 National League Pennants (2004, 06, 11) and 2 World Series victories (2006 & 11).
Tony was nothing, if not consistent in his managerial record. He was a plus .500 manager with all 3 clubs he has led. His career record is 2728-2365 (.536) in 33 years. He led his teams to 12 1st place finished, won 6 League pennants and 3 World Series titles. Tony is third on the all-time list for victories and is the best manager of his generation.
The Hall of Fame announced today the 10 finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award. The Frick Award is given to a broadcaster who is (or was) an iconic voice for their team. To be considered for the award a broadcaster must have at least 10 years of Major League game calling experience. 9 of this year’s 10 finalists have over 2 decades experience in the same market.
The 10 finalists are:
Joe Castiglione – Boston Red Sox
Jacques Doucet – Montreal Expos/Toronto Blue Jays
Ken Harrelson – Chicago White Sox
Bill King – Oakland Athletics
Duane Kuiper – San Francsico Giants
Eric Nadel – Texas Rangers
Eduardo Ortega – San Diego Padres (Spanish language broadcasts)
Mike Shannon – St. Louis Cardinals
Dewayne Staats – Tampa Bay Rays
Pete van Wieren – Atlanta Braves
The winner of the 2014 Ford C. Frick Award will be announced at the MLB Winter Meetings and honored at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony next Summer.
Here at The Elephant Farm we are rooting for Bill King. I remember listening to him thousands of times on the radio calling Athletics games while growing up in the Bay Area. His game calling skills can never be repeated.
I wanted to create a showcase to display my autograph collection. I will occasionally post photos of various baseballs, baseball cards and other items that I have gotten autographed.
To start this series off I decided to display the items I got autographed at the 3 Hall of Fame Celebrity appearances hosted by the Stockton Ports this season. First up is Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Rollie Fingers. After his time with the Athletics fingers went on to play with the San Diego Padre and the Milwaukee Brewers. Fingers was at Banner Island Ballpark on May 3, 2013. Here is what I was able to get autographed:
Collection from Rollie Fingers signing at Stockton Ports on May 3, 2013
Next up is Gaylord Perry who pitched for the San Francisco Giants from 1962-1971 before playing for 7 other teams. Perry was at Banner Island Ballpark on July 13, 2013.
Collection from Gaylord Perry signing at Stockton Ports on July 13, 2013
Finally is Orlando Cepeda. He is best known as a first baseman for the San Francisco Giants. Cepeda also played for 5 other team including a 3 game stint in 1972 with the Oakland Athletics. Cepeda was at Banner Island Ballpark on August 9, 2013.
Collection from Orlando Cepeda signing at Stockton Ports on August 9, 2013