Eric Gagne, once the king of L.A., officially calls it a career
And so it ends, without thunder in the baseball heavens, without even a real goodbye, just memories of a stage once so exhilarating it seemed to shake all of Los Angeles.
Eric Gagne, one of the most exciting players in Dodgers’ history, has officially announced his retirement to the Canadian website RueFrontenac.com.
This would be the Gagne who won a Cy Young, who set a record for consecutive saves that may never be broken, who entered the stadium to a rock song that announced domination.
And the same one linked in the Mitchell Report to HGH, who was released by the Milwaukee Brewers, spent last season with an independent team in Canada and finally failed this spring in a comeback attempt with the Dodgers.
The highs were like few have ever dreamed, but now after two Tommy John surgeries on his elbow and back surgery, the memories are clouded by his drug use.
Gagne finally admitted he used HGH on Feb. 21 to Times columnist T.J. Simers, telling him:
"I did. I hate to talk about it. It just doesn't do anyone any good. But I thought it would help me get better when I hurt my knee. I just don't want that to sound as an excuse.
"I'm so ashamed. It wasn't smart. If I knew what I know now. . . . I didn't need it. I regret it so much, just now maybe getting over the guilt. It was stupid."
There was a stretch when he was the most unhittable pitcher in baseball. So good that he was scary.
By the time he came to the Dodgers’ camp this season, however, it was mostly wishful thinking. He could not find the old magic, giving up six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers assigned him to their minor league camp, but Gagne had to sense there would be no storybook comeback to complete his career. He asked for his release and no other team came calling.
So at age 34, he has called it a career. He’s made his millions, known his glory, so it isn’t like we should feel sorry for him. Still, there’s a lasting feeling of what might have been.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Eric Gagne with the Dodgers in 2005. Credit: Francis Specker / Associated Press.