Yes, that’s former Dodger Eric Gagne behind a bar … and on a large screen
August 25, 2016 - Picnic Time
Eric Gagne used to emerge from a bullpen like Darth Vader overhanging a dental drill.
Even a dorky reserve goggles hinted during imminent doom. A blowtorch four-seamer. The change-up that forsaken like a bowling round off a cruise table. Get a sniff of that, with 3 outs to go in a bottom of a ninth. Whiff-whiff-whiff …
The party-sized reliever has “reinvented himself,” as they like to contend in this town. Now he’s a film writer and a bit actor … even on occasion, a veteran pitcher.
Welcome to a jungle, circa 2016.
You’ll mark Gagne personification a barkeeper in a new Josh Duhamel biopic on Bill “Spaceman” Lee, a love-of-the-game film he helped finance.
You competence not commend him. The former Cy Young Award leader is leaner now, reduction a Panzer tank. Still a stud, though. Lots of golf and baseball. Too most sun.
“People don’t know me. They saw me play maybe 3 or 4 years, and that’s all they know about me,” he says over breakfast. “They consider I’m super crazy since of what we did on a mound. They don’t know I’m not assertive during all.”
The biceps are as large as your thigh, and he pitches still — 93, 94 mph, he says, down usually a few degrees from his prime.
And if Dodgers fans still have an arrogant clarity of who he was — the dim superhero with snidely glower — it’s usually since he played it to a hilt. The formula were staggering: 161 saves in 167 save opportunities — at one point, 84 straight.
So Gagne’s career facilities super crazy numbers, a record tarnished by a run-in with performance-enhancing drugs late in his career that Gagne says he regrets. Without that, a bequest was a things of gods.
Gagne is 40 now and lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. He’s training his 6 kids to representation and operative with Dodgers pitchers during open training, nonetheless he’s light years from that Cy Young deteriorate in 2003, and a prolonged approach from 2008, when he finally left a game.
By a end, Gagne now says, he was a small burnt out on baseball. Until he satisfied how low a hooks were.
That’s a thesis of this Bill Lee film — that ball sticks to we like hunger connect — and it’s a thesis of Gagne’s life. It’s substantially a thesis for any former pro who still thinks he could chuck an inning or dual in a pinch.
What creates Lee’s exit opposite is that he never had one.
Like Gagne, Lee is like zero we’ve seen. A lefty with a pretence bag of violation stuff, hostile hitters would’ve had improved fitness throwing a hummingbird with a hair net. Then came 1982, a year ball radically blackballed him for being a enormous pain in a glutes.
The ballplayer from Burbank, by approach of USC, was a handful, severe managers and ubiquitous managers, a hard-drinking fomenter who showed adult baked during ballparks and even seemed on a cover of “High Times” magazine.
“He was one of my favorite players,” says Gagne, who grew adult in Montreal. “In Montreal they desired that kind of actor … he’s not an outcast, he’s only different.”
Yeah, waaaaaaaaay different, with his hipppy-dippy ideas and gusto for quoting Buckminster Fuller. In Montreal, adoring fans peppered a barfly with little bottles of tequila.
But it wasn’t only a outsized celebrity that appealed to writer/director Brett Rapkin, afterwards to Gagne, whom Rapkin privately recruited for a personal and financial interest in a movie. It was Lee’s adore for a game.
Rapkin’s superb new take on Lee’s life zooms in on a months when he went from a Expos to a drink leagues. If we favourite “Bull Durham,” you’ll like a courage and corner of “Spaceman,” now in singular release.
“His story is bigger than ball … a fact that he is still playing,” says Rapkin, who once did a documentary on Lee, afterwards years after saw a thespian interest of a scripted feature. “He sits in his front yard in Vermont, and says I’ll never quit playing.”
Yep, Lee is still playing. He is a Satchel Paige of a time.
The story of a ball guru like that appealed to Gagne, who still pitches himself, notwithstanding dual Tommy John procedures. Says he feels improved than ever, finally carrying figured out a curveball after operative on it with his sons.
He’ll representation for Ottawa shortly in a Can-Am eccentric league, afterwards substantially for Quebec City subsequent summer — about one diversion a year. A starter these days, he won’t let stadiums play a “Guns N’ Roses” anthem that incited him into a folk hero.
“That’s not for when we start,” he says. “That’s for when we close.”
Game over? Never.