Eckersley talks baseball with fans
Hall of Famer gives his postseason predictions
Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, the only player with both 100 complete games and 100 saves, chatted with fans online Monday. Eckersley talked about some of his most memorable moments and influences and gave his postseason predictions.
Dennis Eckersley: Thanks for joining me today. I'm thrilled to be with you and look forward to answering your questions.
Base_Ball: What did it feel like going back to Cooperstown this summer after being inducted in 2004?
Eckersley: More than anything, it was a relief. The year before, it was hard to remember, when you are that uptight. I wasn't so anxious, to say the least. My eyes were more open to the experience.
vuguzez: Hello Dennis. I'm a 14-year-old boy from Sweden. I want to be a Major League pitcher, can you give me some tips? How did you train to throw hard when you were my age?
Eckersley: The biggest tip to give is to work on pushing off, using your legs. Maybe with a leg kick. Try to stand on one leg, so you can work on your balance. Implement using your leg when you throw. You'll be using your whole body when you throw.
ynkehtr: What is your fondest baseball memory?
Eckersley: Among my favorite moments, the first time in the big leagues. The first time I ever pitched in Cleveland, I pitched against Hank Aaron with the bases loaded. I balked. I put my hands on the knees, popped up and that was it. My fondest memory was winning the World Series, with the ball in hand. Can't top that. My no-hitter, yelling at the last out.
Base_Ball: The Hall of Fame's exhibit, Baseball As America, opens in Oakland this week. Why is it important for the Hall to go to Oakland?
Eckersley: It reaches out to the people who can't go all the way across country. I was never able to make it Cooperstown from the Bay Area, and it gives the people of Oakland and the surrounding areas a chance to see what they are missing. There are a lot of great baseball fans in Oakland, that would certainly enjoy seeing these precious items from Cooperstown.
Base_Ball: What do you think your election to the Hall of Fame will do for other relievers like Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter?
Eckersley: I would hope that it will give them more attention more than anything. Hopefully, my going in opens the door for other relievers, those two being most obvious.
Brenda_Jackson: I had the privilege of watching you pitch in Oakland and for all of the lifetime A's fans, just want to say thank you for being such a great representative of the A's and the Bay Area.
Eckersley: How can you not like pitching in Oakland? The fans are great. It's a nice setting to play in and the fans are first-rate. Thanks for your comments.
jimmyhow: Hi Eck, two-part question -- As a forty-something I recall the Sox/Yanks rivalry of the '70s. How would you compare them to today? What needs to happen to get Jim Ed in the Hall next year? Is there anything we fans can do to lobby?
Eckersley: First, the teams didn't like one another in the '70s. It was very intense. They revived the whole thing a few years ago. It took about 15 years off. It's fired back up now. Both teams struggled for a few years. The intensity level is back. Secondly, his vote totals are trending upward, which is a good thing for him. If you are a Red Sox fan, just keep your fingers crossed that he gets more votes.
mlb_com_member_3: What do you think of the Red Sox's chances this year?
Eckersley: I think they are as good as anybody. It would not surprise me if they won the whole thing again.
mlb_com_member: Who is your favorite player of all time?
Eckersley: I have a couple of guys -- Wille Mays and Juan Marichal. Growing up in the Bay Area, I thought Willie Mays was the greatest player to ever live. Juan Marichal, watching him pitch when I was young, was a tremendous influence. Watching that high leg kick was an influence.
Base_Ball: Hi Dennis. You've been a closer and a starter. In which role was there more pressure?
Eckersley: Closer. For obvious reasons, game is in the balance. If you make a mistake as a starter, you can get away with it. You can't as a reliever.
cyndigo: All things considered, who do you think is the toughest closer to face in baseball today?
Eckersley: Best closer in the game today is Mariano Rivera, without a doubt. You add to that the stage he is on. In the postseason, he is unbelievable. I think you have a better chance right-handed than left-handed against him.
mlb_com_member_4: How did you feel being back in Oakland this summer, standing on that mound again, pitching to Terry Steinbach? From where I sat it looked great, just like the old days!
Eckersley: Not taking anything away from the Hall of Fame, but going back to where it all happened was a wonderful way to close it all out for me.
69vince: Who was your favorite catcher and why?
Eckersley: Got to be Carlton Fisk. He took control of the game. A great athlete.
hootiedon: What do you think about Tim Wakefield's performance yesterday?
Eckersley: Best I've seen him. Best he's ever been. It doesn't get much better than that for a knuckleballer. Unhittable, almost.
coltstoo: Hi Dennis! How do you see the division and the American League playing out the rest of the way?
Eckersley: I see the Angels winning the West, Chicago the Central and Boston the East. I see Cleveland winning the Wild Card. If I had to do it today, that's the way it would be. That's the way it would turn out. It will come down to pitching.
Eckersley: Thanks for your questions. Look forward to seeing you soon. Check out the Hall of Fame's traveling exhibit, "Baseball As America," in Oakland beginning Saturday through January.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.