Former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne officially announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Sunday, marking an end to the career of one who—for a time—was considered to be the most dominant closing pitcher in Major League Baseball. From 2002 through 2004, Gagne’s was career reached a peak as he closed out a Major League Baseball record 84 consecutive saves.
Despite his immense level of success as a closer Eric Gagne’s dominance on the mound would be short-lived, as he was forced to miss much of the 2005 and 2006 seasons due to injury and underwent Tommy John elbow surgery for the second time in his career. Following his second Tommy John surgery and a back operation to address two herniated disc in Gagne’s back, he enjoyed moderate success after being acquired by the Texas Rangers in 2007, but never fully returned to his originally dominant form.
In 2008, it was revealed in the Mitchell Report, in the investigation into steroid use among players in Major League Baseball, that Eric Gagne had been linked to a dealer of Human Growth Hormone—to which he admitted having used during the 2004 season to heal a knee injury, according to a Los Angeles Times interview in February of 2010. Whether or not his use of performance enhancing substances led to an early end to his dominance in his Major League career is a subject of uncertain debate, however it is safe to say that there are more than a few who believe that some of the negative long term-effects of steroid use may have contributed to a premature end to the career of one of the game’s most dominant pitchers.