Though sometimes it seems as though the Ken Burns “Baseball” documentary runs in its entirety every few days, MLB Network does an excellent job during the offseason of putting together interesting original programming.
This certainly qualifies. The network will premiere “Eck: A Story of Saving” on Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. as part of its “MLB Network Presents” series. The film, which runs an hour long, details the perseverance of Hall of Fame pitcher and current Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley on and off the field.
Topics that are covered include his rookie season with the 1975 Indians (the first of his 24 MLB seasons), the trade to the Red Sox in ’78 as his first marriage was falling apart, his decision to seek treatment for alcohol abuse while with the ’86 Cubs, and the career-altering move to the bullpen with the ’88 A’s.
Eckersley, who was filmed on stage at the Cabot Theater in Beverly for his interviews, of course also talks about the legendary home run he gave up to the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
“I threw him a back-door slider that I’ve been living with for 30 years, man,” says Eckersley. “That was one of the toughest nights of my life. It was one of the greatest moments in baseball history. I’ll take what happened in my career for that moment in a heartbeat.”
I’ve seen a clip but not the full screener yet, and the most compelling part of the documentary could be the ever-candid Eckersley’s detailing of his path to sobriety and finding true comfort with who he is.
I’m curious to see how they fit all of Eckersley’s remarkable story into just an hour. He could be his own mini-series.