Player: Dennis Eckersley
Set: 1976 Topps
Card Number: 98
Why is This Card a Must Have?: Come on, it’s the Eck! You have to get a card of a guy that not only was a dominant starter, but also was a dominant reliever. If it weren’t for booze, who knows, the A’s may have never become the team to beat in the late 80′s and early 90′s. It was the booze that threw his career off course, but then again it opened the door to one of the most scary relievers of all time. Let’s put it this way, he saved 390 games in 11 years and that was only half of his career, the second half mind you. Before he was a reliever, he won 151 games as a starter for Cleveland, Boston, and the Cubs. The interesting thing was that Boston got Buckner for Eckersley in 1984. So not only did Boston lose out on Eckersley’s 2nd in Cy Young season, but they acquired the player, whose name, that shall forever be synonymous with scapegoat. I think what always made me an Eckersley fan is the pinpoint control he had. For example in 11 seasons as a reliever, he walked only 114 walks (about 10 a season), that is just phenomenal. His career WHIP was 1.16 (73rd all time), and his BB/9innings was 2.02 (94th all time). I could go on and on about his stats but one thing was clear, for a solid decade, when he came in the game was over. Very few blown saves (of course his worst blown game was a homer given up to Gibson), but what can you do, everyone has a bad day sometimes.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, How Must Have Is This Card?: An 10, probably one of the best all around pitchers of our generation hands down. His card is a top tier must have for any set. Go get it on eBay for $1 – $7 depending on the condition.