For three years, from 2002-04, Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne was the best closer in baseball — and maybe the best closer in baseball history. He recorded an MLB-record 84 consecutive saves across those three seasons and won the 2003 National League Cy Young Award.
He would only pitch 15.1 more innings for Los Angeles after that dominant stretch, though. A series of injuries caused him to miss most of the 2006 and 2006 seasons, and L.A. didn’t bring him back.
Gagne enjoyed limited success in his post-Dodgers career, recording 26 saves for the Rangers and Brewers in 2007-08. He also pitched for the Red Sox between those two teams in 2007, but he blew all three save opportunities with Boston.
Near the end of his playing career, he was implicated as a user of performance-enhancing drugs in 2007’s Mitchell Report. Between the PED taint and his ineffectiveness, he didn’t pitch in the big leagues after 2008.
In 2009, Gagne went home to Quebec to play for the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League. He didn’t pitch well, posting a 4.65 ERA in 102.2 innings, but it was enough to earn an invitation to spring training with the Dodgers in 2010. He allowed six runs in less the three innings, eventually asking for his release and announcing his retirement.
Gagne continued to pitch in independent leagues in Canada, and in 2017 he pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He considered a comeback at age 41, but after working out with the Dodgers in spring training he wasn’t ready for the big leagues. He signed with the independent Long Island Ducks, but a month later he retired (for good this time).
— Long Island Ducks (@LIDucks) May 5, 2017
Gagne coached for Team France in the 2013 WBC and the 2014 European Championships. After his final retirement, he coached in the Brewers’ minor league system in 2018 and 2019.
In 2021, Gagne caught up with Dodgers Nation on the Blue Heaven Podcast.
Gagne mostly lives a quiet life out of the limelight these days, although he can occasionally be spotted at Dodger Stadium.
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