Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Top 50 Players On Cardboard #46-Dennis Eckersley

My Top 50 Players On Cardboard
Dennis Eckersley

1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley RC

Hobby Impact-
The Eck really came into his own as a player, and in the baseball card hobby, when Tony LaRussa signed him as a relief pitcher with the Oakland A's.  Eckersley was surrounded by several hobby favorites during his time in Oakland, which certainly helped his hobby value, but he earned a lot of the interest in his cards through his great performance on the field.  In fact, if you look at the run of good Oakland teams from 1988 through 1992, Eckersley is the real standout pitcher on the team.  

While his cards had taken a dive during the mid 80s, they had a bit of a revival and are now pretty popular.  Add in the fact that Eck has always been a good signer with a great signature and you've got a good chance to be pretty popular within the hobby.  While his cards are not necessarily always really high in value, it's not hard to find collectors who are interested in adding a few nice Eckersley cards to their collections.  

2005 Prime Patches Dennis Eckersley Triple Jersey/Autograph

If you are looking for an inexpensive copy, easily found for less than $20, I suggest looking around at some of his 2005 Donruss/Playoff products which featured him as a Cardinal or Cub.  Not the finest stops in his career which is certainly reflected in the price of the cards.  I will say though, that the Cardinals cards in the Prime Patches set feature some nice multiple relic and patch cards.  

On The Field Impact-
Eckersley started off his career with the Indians and later moved to the Red Sox as a dominate starting pitcher.  He compiled really good numbers as a starter, but his career tailed off after moving to the Cubs in the 80s.  Needless to say, there were a few off the field issues around this time with Eckersley.

In the great tradition of LaRussa/Dave Duncan reclamation projects, the A's signed Eckersley, and moved him to the bullpen.  Eckersley became a control pitcher who threw the ball outside and became one of the most dominating relief pitchers in the Majors from the late 80s through the mid 90s.  1992 was his best year when he won the Cy Young and the MVP while leading the A's to a playoff appearance.  

My favorite Eckersley stat factoid comes from his 1989 and 1990 seasons where he walked less than five people each season while appearing in more than 60 games.  In fact, during those two seasons he walked seven batters combined, one intentionally, while striking out 128 batters.  Pretty impressive control.  

Favorite Card-
Easy.  The 1989 Topps Mini.  

1989 Topps Mini Dennis Eckersley 

Eckersley played for more than twenty years and this follow through is what I remember best about him as a pitcher.  He also squinted one eye when he was pitching, had that funny leg kick, and would always touch his hair before throwing a pitch.  For whatever reason, maybe it's just me, this card is what Dennis Eckersley looks like.  If you were looking for a 1A for best Eckersley card you should find a copy of his 2013 Topps Tribute autograph.  A's uniform, mullet, autograph.  Near perfection.  

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