Dennis Eckersley didn’t see him coming.
It’s not as if the future Hall of Fame pitcher wasn’t aware of it Minnesota Twins slugger Dave Winfield was focusing on 3,000 hits.
In his storied career, Eckersley felt lucky to be in Fenway Park on September 12, 1979, when red socks His teammate Karl Jastrzemsky became the 15th man to reach 3,000 results.
Since Jastrzemsky’s single, only three players have achieved this feat in the next 14 years. chrsley and him Auckland The A teammates knew just how close the historic mark Winfield sat.
“Before that, you know it’s coming,” Eckersley said. “It never occurred to me that I would be the man standing on the hill.”
Although 1993 was a downside year for him, Eckersley came as a relief after one season of being named MLS Player of the Year and Cy Young Award winner. He also averaged only 4.3 hitters per game during his first 57 games that season.
Even with Oakland playing four games in the Metrodome, chances were that the far Eckersley was on the hill with 3,000 hits on the line.
Then it happened.
Winfield’s single in the seventh inning on September 16, 1993, It was the 2999th hit of his career. Two rounds later, Winfield found a hole on the left side and took close to bragging about driving in a race during the tie run.
When Winfield made it to base, Eckersley became another famous player who was standing on the mound for someone else’s mega moment. No stranger to their own big accomplishments, a talented class of bowlers among the 33 men were in the background for one of baseball’s rare accomplishments after delivering another player’s 3000th hit.
“If I asked, ‘How many players have you played with that had 3,000 songs? Or have you attended a match before? The only one I remember is Yaz and that was 1979,” Eckersley said. “There aren’t a lot of times you’re a part of it, let alone a promotion.”
Only 32 other archers were in the same spot as Eckersley during that Major League Baseball147 years of history. Earlier this season, Colorado Antonio Cinzatella Join the club when Detroit‘s Miguel Cabrera He picked him at number 3000 on April 23.
Many of the shooters who have shared those moments with their Hall of Fame opponents have masterful resumes.
Included in the group is one of the Hall of Famer (Eckersley), the future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, several Cy Young winners, a few Rookie of the Year winners, countless 20-game winners, and a few first-round draft picks. Even a father, though poor record keeping prior to 1900 calls, questions whether Dad Clarke’s second Cap Anson song on September 19, 1897, was really HOFer’s 3000th song.
Verlander, who topped Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit on June 19, 2015, has a theory as to why there are so many accomplished shooters among this small group.
“It’s about time (on the hill),” he said. “You always end up being there for something big over time.”
Like bugs smashing into a windshield on a long car ride, basic banging is a part of life to start pitchers. It is inevitable. Even aces yield.
Despite keeping opponents at a batting average of 172 in 2019, Verlander allowed 5.5 hits per nine innings.
In the match before becoming the 29th hitter to hit 3,000, Rodriguez walked into his last appearance on the board after going 2 for 4, leaving him sitting on the doorstep with 2,999 hits.
At the beginning of the next day, Verlander knew he could end up with it who – which guy.
As much as the two-time Cy Young winner didn’t want to end up on Rodriguez’s outstanding reel, Verlander wouldn’t deviate from his game plan.
“You know it’s there, but you’re really not trying to change much,” Verlander said. “If a guy gets hurt, he gets hit. It’s baseball. He got 2,999 of them for a reason.”
While the list of bowlers who have succumbed to some of the greatest mates in baseball history contains countless people, the club’s 3,000 victims are impressive.
Steve Rogers, which resulted in the number 3000 Pete Rose song, was a five-time All-Star and runner-up for both the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. Erskine Meyer (Honus Wagner) won 21 games in 1914 and 1915.
Rip Sewell (Paul Waner) has been a four-time All-Star, has been voted MVP three times and won 21 games twice. Baseball reference credit Moe Drabowsky (Stan Musial) with 19.7 career Wins Above Replacement. Aaron Cook (Craig Biggio) was an All-Star star in 2008.
Jim Beattie (Yastrzemski) produced 14.9 WAR between 1981 and 1984. Joel Piñeiro (Rafael Palmeiro) went 104-93 over 12 seasons. Jose Rosado (Paul Molitor) was a two-time All-Star before a shoulder injury ruined his career.
John Matlack (Roberto Clemente) was the fourth pick among the 1967 Amateur Draft, the 1972 National ROY and a three-time All-Star. Dave McNally (Alkaline) won no less than 20 games in four consecutive seasons (1968-1971) and was a three-time All-Star. A Cy Young winner, Frank Viola (Rod Carew), was a three-time All-Star and produced a 47.0 bWAR career. José Mesa (Robin Yount) was a runner-up at Cy Young and finished 321 career saves.
Valley Miley (Adrian Belter) had hitter in 2021 and was an All-Star in 2012. Mike Lake (Albert Pujols) was the eighth pick for the 2009 draft and set a career record 105-98. Wayne Simpson (Hank Aaron) was the eighth pick in the 1967 All-Star draft as a rookie before injuries derailed his career.
Eckersley and Verlander’s biography speaks for itself. While Verlander didn’t like giving up Homer for Rodriguez, it’s not something he’s worried about.
“I don’t really care,” Verlander said. “It doesn’t bother me. It’s Alex’s highlight. It’s clearly not one of the highlights I’ve had, and I feel like I’ve accomplished enough in this game that (not doing) anything that detracts.”
With three non-strike players and 3,167 strikes, Verlander has had its fair share of personal highlights. Knows the desire to avoid existence who – which The man goes both ways.
As he approached 3,000 strikes on September 28, 2019, Verlander remembers one encounter in particular. He finished the third half against Angels By having Brian Goodwin swing and miss in a change, which set up a Verlander-Albert Pujols match to start the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Nobody wanted it to be that far away from them, just as the Pujols didn’t want it to be my 3000th hit,” Verlander said. “I had a chance for 3,000 games against him and at first he cut the pitch and brought him into play. You don’t want to be that guy. But as a pitcher, I wouldn’t go around you.”
After being sidelined in the first two months of the 2015 season with a strained right triceps muscle, Verlander was making only his second start to the season when he faced Rodriguez at Yankee Stadium.
“I felt like an X,” Verlander said. “I wasn’t very good. The arm didn’t feel comfortable. But I probably mustered my best speed during the whole match for this court. I wish I could feel better and have a better chance of success.”
The first-court fastball from Verlander to Rodriguez clocked 94.9 mph, nearly five mph slower than his top speed of the season (it hit 99.8 mph in September 2015). Rodriguez jumped to the center right, becoming one of three hitters to reach 3000 with the tri-round, along with Derek Jeter and Wade Boggs.
going on sometimes who – which The man feels like fate.
in hindsight, David Price It is viewed this way. With Jeter’s long run to 3,000 strikes coming to a close 11 years ago, Price felt he could be the bowler who fell right down his historic trajectory.
A month before that happened, Jeter had acknowledged how well done the job was at Yankee Stadium. A few days later, Jeter was put on the 15-day casualty list with a grade 1 calf strain with just six strokes.
Jeter’s stay in IL lasted 19 games and included three road competitions in New York Mets, an extension that gave him a greater chance of hitting the target at Yankee Stadium. He returned to the squad on July 4, 2011, producing three strikes during a three-game streak at Cleveland before scoring again in his first four vs. Tampa Bay At home to take it to 2,998.
For a moment, Price thought he might escape becoming a part of history. His teammate Jeremy Helixon was scheduled to play the next day’s game – but was canceled due to a rainstorm.
“They come up to me after we got hit and say, ‘I’m still going tomorrow,'” Price said, laughing.
Jeter, before hitting, opened the July 9, 2011 contest by bouncing the fastball at 95 mph for a single volley. Two rounds later, Jeter rips another 3-2 throw, this one a curve, for a long solo home run from Price.
Jeter finished his day on his storybook and became 5 for 5. Price was in the front row seat.
The highlight was one of several plays detailed in a recent seven-part documentary about Jeter’s career, “The Captain,” which aired on ESPN.
“You could have done an entire documentary in just his day,” Price said.
Price said that some of his current colleagues and others Los Angeles Dodgers The staff only knew he was on the hill for Jeter’s magical moment after watching the documentary.
Their discovery led to a new round of conversations, and Price doesn’t seem to mind having these conversations. He smiled and was so comfortable talking about the hit, he even laughed as he recalled how a Dodgers executive suggested he pitched the Jeter.
“(Jeter) was one of my favorite players growing up,” Price said. “I wish it wasn’t Homer. It would be great if it was a singles on the right or something. But it happened and I will forever be associated with it. Of all the players who have achieved this. Feat, he’s one of the guys I’d be totally OK with letting go of that.”
While Price walked to the hidden rail at third base and rested during a long celebration break, and even acknowledged Jeter, in 1993 Eckersley wasn’t in the festive mood. Eckersley wasn’t happy to be on the hill for Winfield’s hit, and Winfield knew it.
For one thing, Winfield’s success has made it a single-play game. Even if it was a meaningless contest, there was a rescue at stake.
“Before 3000, (the guys) said ‘We’re going to run over there and cuddle you and enjoy the moment,’” Winfield said. Not happy. Our guys can say. They were a little nervous to go out on the field and celebrate.”
Instead, Winfield’s colleagues remained in the dugout.
“They got up and got to the edge of the bunker and they looked at Eckersley and said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to run out there,'” Winfield said.
Nearly 30 years later, Eckersley has a different view of Winfield. Both men are from the Hall of Famers and discussed the moment during their annual trips to Cooperstown. And they share another relationship – their birthday (October 3).
“You’re supposed to be,” Eckersley said.
As Verlander has noted, the longer a person’s career is, the more big moments he’s part of – sometimes as a star, sometimes not. Eckersley played 24 seasons, won 197 games and scored 390 saves. Like Verlander, Eckersley won the World Championships and was voted Cy Young and MVP in the same season.
While the save is important at the time, the highlight is Winfield doesn’t score the same with Eckersley when compared to the game-winning home run that allowed Kirk Gibson to finish Game 1 of the 1988 World Championships.
Like most of the rest, it’s just another hit that’s allowed.
“I’m pretty cool with that, 3,000 clicks, that’s good,” said Eckersley. “It’s so much better than the Gibson thing. I can live with that. You can talk about it all you want. I had worse.”
(Photo by Justin Verlander, background, and Alex Rodriguez: Rob Tringali/MLB via Getty Images)