Dennis Eckersley, the retired American professional baseball player, has achieved a significant net worth of $20 million throughout his successful career. Known for his remarkable skills as a closer, Eckersley played in the MLB for 23 years and represented teams like the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Oakland Athletics. His achievements include being the first pitcher in MLB history to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season. Additionally, Eckersley has earned numerous accolades, including six All-Star selections, a World Series championship, an American League MVP award, and an AL Cy Young Award. In 2004, he was rightfully inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Early Life and High School Days
Dennis Eckersley was born on October 3, 1954, in Oakland, California, and spent his formative years in Fremont. During his teenage years at Washington High School, he showcased his athletic abilities as a quarterback on the football team for three years. However, he decided to give up football during his senior year to protect his throwing arm. Baseball became his primary focus, and his talent as a pitcher was evident, with 29 wins and an impressive 90-mile-per-hour fastball.
Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox
In the 1972 MLB draft, Eckersley was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the third round. Despite his initial disappointment of not being drafted by the Giants, Eckersley made his MLB debut in April 1975 and immediately made an impact. He finished his rookie season with a 13-7 win-loss record, a 2.6 ERA, and was named the American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year. Eckersley’s long hair, mustache, and impressive fastball made him a fan favorite. One of his most memorable moments with the Indians occurred in May 1977 when he pitched a no-hitter against the California Angels. That same year, he earned his first All-Star Game selection.
Eckersley was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1978, where he had his best season, winning a career-high 20 games. In 1979, he won 17 games but experienced a decline in performance over the next four years. His fastball lost its previous dominance, and he concluded his tenure with the Red Sox in 1984 with a 43-48 record.
Chicago Cubs and Struggles
In 1984, Eckersley was traded to the Chicago Cubs midseason. That year, the Cubs made their first postseason appearance in 39 years. In the following season, Eckersley achieved an 11-7 record with two shutouts. However, his performance declined in 1986, resulting in a 6-11 record and a 4.57 ERA. During this time, Eckersley battled with alcoholism and subsequently sought help by checking himself into rehab at the end of the season.
Oakland Athletics and Dominance as a Closer
In 1987, Eckersley was traded to the Oakland Athletics, where manager Tony La Russa utilized him as a long reliever and set-up pitcher. However, Eckersley’s true breakthrough came when he transitioned into the closer role. In his first season with the Athletics, he saved 16 games, and the following season he solidified his reputation as one of the top closers in the league by leading with 45 saves. In the 1988 American League Championship Series (ALCS), Eckersley had saves in all four games, contributing to the Athletics’ sweep of the Red Sox. Although the Athletics ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, they rebounded strongly in 1989 and swept the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series.
From 1988 to 1992, Eckersley established himself as the most dominant closer in baseball. During this period, he saved 220 games and never had an ERA higher than 2.96. Notably, in 1989, he walked only three batters in 57.2 innings, followed by four batters in 73.1 innings in 1990, and nine batters in 76 innings in 1991. These outstanding achievements led to him being honored with the AL MVP award and the Cy Young Award in 1992. However, his performance declined in the subsequent years, and after the 1994 season, he became a free agent. In 1995, he signed a one-year contract with the Athletics.
Final Playing Years and Career Earnings
Eckersley was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, where he continued to excel as a closer, recording 66 saves over two seasons. He then returned to the Red Sox for a second time in 1998 and served as a set-up man for Tom Gordon. Following the conclusion of the season, Eckersley announced his retirement from MLB. Throughout his career, he amassed an impressive record of 197-171, 390 saves, and a 3.5 ERA.
In terms of earnings, Eckersley earned a total of $27.6 million in salary during his career, in addition to several million more from endorsements. Adjusted for inflation, his peak annual earnings in 1993 and 1994 equate to $7.5 million today.
Post-Playing Career and Personal Life
Since 2003, Eckersley has worked as a studio analyst and color commentator for New England Sports Network, providing insights during Red Sox broadcasts. His calm demeanor and unique on-air presence have made him a beloved figure among fans. From 2008 to 2012, he served as a studio analyst at TBS and continued to contribute to Sunday games and postseason analysis for the network.
Eckersley has been married multiple times. His first marriage was to Denise in 1973, and they had a daughter named Mandee. However, their marriage ended when Denise had an affair with Eckersley’s teammate Rick Manning. Two years later, Eckersley married model Nancy O’Neil. They had a daughter named Allie and a son named Jake but divorced shortly after Eckersley’s retirement in 1998. He is currently married to Jennifer, a former lobbyist.
Furthermore, Eckersley is the subject of an MLB Network documentary titled “Eck: A Story of Saving,” which premiered in December 2018, highlighting his extraordinary career.