|Birth Day:||January 7, 1976|
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He played baseball and hockey while growing up in Canada and spoke only French when he was drafted into the MLB.
Gagné attended Seminole Junior College in Seminole, Oklahoma. Coming from a French-speaking Canadian providence, Gagné knew very little English; he became proficient in English by watching American TV while in college, mainly the sitcom Kenan and Kel. He eventually became the star pitcher for Seminole's baseball team. He was a 30th-round draft choice (845th overall) of the Chicago White Sox in 1994 MLB draft, but the following year he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent.
In 2003, as a closer, Gagné was called upon 55 times to save a baseball game and converted every one of them en route to becoming both the first pitcher to record 50 saves in more than one season and also the fastest pitcher to ever reach the 100-save plateau. His 55 saves in 2003 also equalled the National League record set the previous season by John Smoltz. Between August 26, 2002 and July 5, 2004, he converted 84 consecutive save chances, a major league record. More than half (55%) of the batters he retired during the 2003 season came by strikeout.
Gagné sustained several injuries in early 2005. Although he was still an effective pitcher, 2.70 ERA and 8 for 8 in save opportunities, Gagné was only able to appear in 14 games that season. On June 21, 2005, it was announced that Gagné would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a sprained ligament in his right elbow. Recovery would take a year or more; furthermore, a return to major league pitching after a second Tommy John operation (Gagné's first was in 1997) is nearly unheard of, having since been achieved by another Dodger reliever, the Taiwanese left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo. However, as surgeons began to perform the operation, they discovered instead a nerve entrapped by scar tissue and were able to release it with a less invasive procedure. Gagné was still unable to play for the remainder of the 2005 season.
Gagné expressed hope that an accelerated recovery would allow him to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March 2006, but he eventually decided that it was not worth the risk, and to focus on preparing to pitch in the regular season.
The Dodgers declined to extend Gagné's $12 million contract after the season, making him a free agent. On December 12, 2006 Gagné signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $6 million, with a possible $5 million in performance bonuses. Gagné had a poor spring training, allowing five earned runs in only three innings of work. For the third consecutive year, Gagné was placed on the disabled list to start the season to let him recover from his injuries. Gagné started to make his recovery by tossing in three minor league games, two of them on consecutive days, allowing a home run and having one loss. In his last minor league game, Gagné retired all three of the batters he faced, and he was activated on April 13.
On July 31, 2007, Gagné was traded to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Kason Gabbard and minor league outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltré. Gagné was expected to serve as a setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Theo Epstein was quoted as saying that "I think the bullpen is already a strength of the club, but acquiring a pitcher the caliber of Éric Gagné only makes it stronger and helps give us what we hope will be a truly dominant bullpen for the remainder of the year."
On December 9, 2007, Gagné reached a preliminary agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers. On December 10, he inked the one-year deal to become their new closer. The one-year deal had a base salary of $10 million, with incentives worth up to an extra $1 million. Gagné went back to wearing the number 38 after wearing 83 in Boston.
On December 13, 2007, Gagné was listed in the Mitchell Report—former Senator George Mitchell's report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Gagné was identified as a user of HGH (Human Growth Hormone). Allegedly, Gagné received the drugs from steroids dealer Kirk Radomski. At first, Radomski said that Gagné obtained them from Dodgers teammate Paul Lo Duca, but then Radomski said in the report that he mailed two shipments of HGH directly to Gagné in 2004. Receipts of FedEx and USPS shipments indicate that Radomski received at least one payment from Gagné and two from Dodgers teammate Lo Duca on behalf of Gagné. Gagné declined to meet with Senator Mitchell to respond to the charges before the report was released.
Gagné finished 2008 with his worst full season in the major leagues: 10 saves in 17 opportunities, an ERA of 5.41, and 38 strikeouts in 46 innings. He did not convert a save after losing the closer job to Torres. His poor performance on the field coupled with his high salary led to him being considered a "ten million dollar mistake" by many Brewers fans.
On May 26, 2009, Gagné announced that he had signed with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League as a starting pitcher/coach. Gagné began playing with the team on June 9, 2009. He had been highly praised by Capitales manager Michel Laplante for his hard work and mentorship of other pitchers and hitters on the team. Gagné helped the team win the League Championship in September 2009. On July 26, 2009, in a game versus the New Jersey Jackals, he recorded 6 no hit innings in a 7 inning game. He would surrender two straight hits. However, the team would end the game on a triple play.
In a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gagné expressed remorse not only for what he had done, but also for the fact that he could not speak openly about it, likely (according to the Times) due to reluctance to implicate others.
On February 18, 2010, Gagné agreed to a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers with an invite to spring training. Dodgers reliever Ramón Troncoso, remembering Gagné's mentorship of young pitchers such as himself during Gagné's earlier stint with the Dodgers, "had no problem" releasing to Gagné his old uniform number 38. Gagné made three Spring training appearances with the Dodgers, allowing six runs on eight hits in 2⅔ innings, for a 20.25 ERA. On March 15, he was reassigned to minor league camp, acknowledging that he needed more work to bring his game back to the Major League level. After appearing in just one minor league intra-squad game after his demotion, on March 21, Gagné asked for and was granted his release from the Dodgers, with the hope that he could find another opportunity with another team. However, he announced his retirement on April 18, 2010.
Gagné, who is Canadian and whose native language is French, served as the pitching coach for the France national baseball team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifiers in September 2012. France failed to win a game and did not qualify for the main tournament.
In the fall of 2013, Gagné was named the head coach of the French national baseball team. The team finished in sixth place in the 2014 European Championships under Gagne. France competed in the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in Panama.
On August 28, 2015, six years after his last presence in professional baseball, Gagné participated in a game with the Trois-Rivières Aigles of the independent Can-Am League as a starting pitcher. Gagné recorded 2 strikeouts in 4-1/3 innings, allowing only 1 run and two hits but gave up 5 walks to the opposite team, the Quebec Capitales, in a 5–3 win for the Aigles.
On September 5, 2016, Gagné pitched for the Ottawa Champions of the Can-Am League, attracting nearly 8,000 fans.
On January 14, 2017, it was reported that Gagne, along with retired pitcher Ryan Dempster, would be joining the Team Canada pitching staff for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Prior to the start of the 2017 season, Gagne announced that he was pondering a return to Major League Baseball. After working out with the Dodgers during spring training and pitching in the WBC, he signed a contract with the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He retired again on May 21, 2017.
Gagné rejoined the Texas Rangers organization as a coach in 2018, serving as the pitching coach of the Arizona Rangers of the Rookie-level Arizona League. In 2019 Gagné was promoted to bullpen coach of the Nashville Sounds of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Gagné was released by Rangers organization following the 2019 season.
Currently, Eric Gagne is 47 years, 0 months and 22 days old. Eric Gagne will celebrate 48th birthday on a Sunday 7th of January 2024.
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