Right-handed pitcher Dennis Eckersley won 197 games, saved 390 more and forever has a plaque in Cooperstown. Most of those saves were accumulated during his years as closer for the famed Oakland A’s led by Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan, with whom he was employed from 1987 through 1995. When La Russa and Duncan moved to St. Louis in 1996, so did Eck, serving as the Cardinals’ ninth-inning man for two seasons.
I had the opportunity to speak with Eckersley on Tuesday as he was working at the 2011 MLB All-Star Game in Phoenix. In the following interview, we discuss the changing role of the closer, the various characteristics that make a successful ninth-inning man and wrap up with his view of the pitching needs in St. Louis and how long he thinks La Russa will continue to manage.
Listen to audio: Dennis Eckersley interview (10:27)
The former hurler has been seen regularly on television in recent months as one of the stars of the Pepsi Max “Clubhouse in the Corn” commercial along with other Hall of Famers and current MLB stars. Eckersley has also been busy raising awareness about a new promotion, Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams.
You can create an All-Star roster of your own with a salute to the living legends of the game. Now through August 31, at MLB.com/PepsiMAX, you can vote for your favorite players at each of the nine positions. For each ballot cast, you will be entered to win the chance to take on the winning Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams Team on your home turf next spring. Eckersley and Ozzie Smith are among the 30 retired MLB greats on the ballot.