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"Goooooose!" Bruce Sutter, Yes, Goose Gossage, No?

The National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown enshrinement beckons for Bruce Sutter this coming August. This writer has no  argument with that choice. But there was another relief pitcher from that time period who also is equally deserving of being  a Hall of Famer. His personality left a lot to be desired, but his skills were there. 

Out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Richard Michael Gossage was one of the most consistent relief pitchers ever. A glowerer on the mound, always staring a batter down, Gossage's big cowboy-style moustache, wild mane of hair, thick stubble and wide body made him an intimidator. The Goose also threw wicked heat making him usually unhittable. 

Signing as a free agent with the Yankees in 1978, he took over the Sparky Lyle stopper role and saved 27 games leading the late season Yankee charge to catch Boston. It was Gossage who got the save in the one game American League East playoff game against the Red Sox. 

"Gossage was this big hulking guy who would get out of this little Toyota with pinstripes on it," recalled Irv Kaze who was on the scene then as publicity director for the Yankees. "It seemed he unfolded as he came out of the car. He had that fumanchu moustache - and there he was 60 feet away with seemingly the ability to throw a ball through a wall. But he was a gentle man."

One of the best relievers in baseball in the years of the

"Bronx Zoo," Gossage twice saved more than 30 games a season and was always good for a wisecrack at someone else's expense, always  good for one kind of headline or another.

Following a 6-3 loss to the Orioles on April 19, 1979, Gossage and Cliff Johnson had a push and shove in the Yankee clubhouse.  Gossage was out of action for months with a sprained ligament in his left thumb. That ended Johnson's time as a Yankee.

In 1980, Gossage led the American League in saves, but is probably remembered most for "the homer" he gave up to George Brett that torqued KC's surprising sweep of the Yanks in the ALCS. Brett-Gossage was an item again in 1983 in the "Pine Tar" Game.

"I want out," was how Gossage began one of his famous tirades. He seemed to always be starting one or ending one.   "I'm sick of everything that goes on around here. I'm sick of all the negative stuff and you can take that upstairs to the fat man and tell him I said it."

The "fat man" (George Steinbrenner) heard those words and others. In 1983, Gossage's half dozen plus Yankee seasons ended. He left behind some splendid numbers -   a 2.14 E.R.A., an average of almost a strikeout an inning and a franchise record 51 saves later broken by Dave Righetti.   

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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