The Texas Rangers announced their minor league staffs for 2019. An interesting name came up that put a big smile on my face: Eric Gagne, the new bullpen coach for the Nashville Sounds.
The Sounds are, of course, the new AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, after moving from Round Rock this offseason. Gagne spent last year in the Rangers organization as pitching coach of the rookie level AZL Rangers. Entering his second year as a Ranger coach, it makes it his third time to help the Rangers in a significant way. Most Ranger fans don’t remember the first time he helped this team become a World Series participant (get that confused look off your face. He wasn’t on the mound for those Ranger teams). Let me remind you.
Eric Gagne was once the premier closer in all of baseball. In fact, he has the record of most consecutive saves without blowing one at 84. He also has the single season record for saves at 55. But none of those are what helped the Rangers get to the World Series.
Gagne was an amateur free agent out of a small Oklahoma college when he signed with the Dodgers in 1994. However, he went to Oklahoma from Canada as a non English speaking French Canadian (he apparently learned English by watching TV). After he began his career as starter, he changed to bullpen and became a star. In 2002 he made his debut as a closer and the rest is history. So how do the Rangers figure into this?
After battling injuries, the Dodgers declined to pickup the $12 million option for Gagne in 2006. That December, he signed a one-year deal with the Rangers for $6 million with incentives for more. Injuries continued to hamper his return to the field, but in May of 2007 he returned to the major leagues. He went on to go 2-0 and save 16 games for the Rangers. That leads us to his first contribution to the rebuilding Rangers.
On July 7th of 2007, Jon Daniels flipped Gagne to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Kason Gabbard and two minor league outfielders. One of those outfielders turned out to be former Red Sox first round pick David Murphy. Murphy went on to be a key player in those World Series years for Texas. A fan favorite who continues to work with the organization as a broadcaster for Fox Southwest and the Frisco Roughriders.
Texas Rangers fans should open their arms and wish nothing but success for Eric Gagne as he enters his second year of helping out the Rangers pitchers. Let’s not forget his first contribution to the organization.
Featured Photo: Khampha Bouaphanh/Ft Worth Star Telegram/Getty Images