Wendel: My favorite player, Dennis Eckersley

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on March 16, 2014:

I first covered baseball in the mid-1980s for The San Francisco Examiner. The Giants and the Athletics were both contenders, due to meet in the “Battle of the Bay” World Series in 1989, and those squads had plenty of stellar often-colorful ballplayers.

For this was the Humm-Baby heyday in San Francisco, with Will Clark, Bob Brenly, and a pitching staff throwing the split-finger fastball under the tutelage of Manager Roger Craig. “Humm-baby means aggressive, hard-nosed baseball,” Craig once explained. “It can mean a great double play, a well-executed hit-and-run, or a beautiful girl.”

Across the bay, in Oakland, the management style was certainly more buttoned down with Tony La Russa and Sandy Alderson in charge. But Rickey Henderson was usually good for grins and giggles. He was the first athlete I ever encountered who spoke about himself in the third person. (“Rickey knows how to play this game because Rickey has been playing it for as long as Rickey can remember.”) The roster for the Swinging A’s included Jose Canseco and emerging Bash Brother Mark McGwire, along with cameos from Dave Parker and Reggie Jackson.

Yet my favorite from that era of larger-than-life personalities and winning ballclubs remains Dennis Eckersley. During my time at The Examiner, the paper’s “swing man” covering both teams, the right-hander with the trademark mustache made the transition from starting pitcher to dominant closer.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/my-favorite-player-dennis-eckersley

Originally published: March 17, 2014. Last Updated: March 17, 2014.