20.9.05

Claude Raymond and Eric Gagné

I have to talk about those two guys because they’re both from Quebec, just as I am, and because of their similarity. Claude Raymond was a bespectacled reliever with a bulldog attitude and so is Eric Gagné. They’re clearly the two best Quebec-born ballplayers ever.

Of course, Raymond was not as good Gagné. But he pitched for twelve years in the Majors, logging a very respectable 3.66 ERA and 83 career saves. He made the All-Star team as a Houston Astros in 1966. The most memorable moment of his career occured on May 16th 1969, when he pitched for the first time against the Expos in Montreal as an Atlanta Brave. He came in relief with two men on in the bottom of the ninth The crowd gave him a tremendous ovation and he started to cry on the mound. But he pulled himself together and got out of the inning. The Braves won the game in the 12th inning and he was the winning pitcher.

The Braves traded Raymond to the Expos later that year. In 1970, he had a Field of Dream season with his hometown team. At age 33, he pitched 83 ½ innings, won 7 games and notched 23 saves, a very good total at the time. He retired in 1971 and was a Expos broadcaster for a long time after that. He's moderatly famous for having his fly open on his 1967 baseball card (shown above).

Eric Gagné is one of the most overpowering closer ever. He’s a big guy with three nasty pitches (fastball, curve, change-up), which is a luxury for a relief pitcher. He won the National League Cy Young Award in 2003, logging 55 saves and 137 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings, with an 1.20 ERA . But he’ll never pitch for the Expos in Montreal...

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