He Was A Cub
Volume 3 -
Rich “Goose” Gossage.
With the recent announcement of the Hall of Fame class of
2011, I thought it would be appropriate to showcase a HOF member as the next
subject for my “He Was a Cub” series. That hall of famer is Rich “Goose”
Rich Gossage was drafted in the 9th round of the
1970 amateur draft by the Chicago White Sox.
After being drafted, Gossage pitched 51 innings in single “A” ball to finish
out the summer of 1970. The next season, 1971, Rich Gossage was a starting
pitcher for single “A” Appleton, and Gossage totally dominated his opponents. Rich
made 24 starts that year going 18-2 with a 1.83 era.
Gossage’s great minor league season led to a roster spot
with the Chicago White Sox for the 1972 season as a reliever in the bullpen,
although his first appearance would be delayed by the first ever players
strike. The start of the season began 13 days late and Gossage made his first
appearance on April 16 against the Kansas City Royals. With runners on second
and third and no outs, Gossage came on in the bottom of the fifth in a 1-1 tie.
The first batter that Gossage faced was the 1969 AL rookie of the year, Lou
Piniella. Gossage walked Piniella to load the bases. The next batter hit
into a 6-4 force-out at second with a run scoring and then Gossage was able to
get out of the inning without additional runs scoring.
With Chuck Tanner as his
manager, Goose Gossage spent his first three seasons in the bullpen for the
White Sox pitching middle relief and making a couple of spot starts. The main
closer for those teams was Terry Forster, however, during the 1975 season
Forster suffered an injury and Gossage took over the closer role. That season
Gossage made 62 appearances with a 9-8 record, 1.84 era, and a league leading 26
saves. Unfortunately for Chuck Tanner, the Sox finished 75-86 in fifth place
and Tanner was fired.
In 1976, new Sox manager Paul Richards decided to make Rich
Gossage a starting pitcher again. Gossage made 29 starts; he was 9-17 with a
3.94 era. Meanwhile, Chuck Tanner was managing the Oakland A’s for one season
with Rollie Fingers as his closer.
Chuck Tanner was fired from Oakland after the ’76 season and
hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates to be their
new manager. One of his first moves was to make a trade with the White Sox for
Goose Gossage and Terry Forster. Tanner told Gossage he would make him the
closer like he was under Tanner in Chicago. That season Gossage saved 26 games
to go along with 11 wins and a 1.62 era.
Today Gossage gives Chuck Tanner all the credit for defining
his role in baseball and making into who he became.
Rich Gossage became a free agent for the first time
following the 1977 season and he signed with the team that he would become synonyms
with, the New York Yankees.
Over the next 7 seasons Gossage dominated the AL in the
closer role for the Yankees saving 151 games, winning 42 more. He was a four
time all-star with the Yanks, getting Cy Young and MVP votes three different
times each during that period.
After the 1983 season, Gossage left the Yankees and signed
as a free agent with the San Diego Padres. 1984 would be a good year for both
Gossage and the Padres as San Diego made the playoffs and crushed the hopes of
Cubs fans winning three straight games and winning the NL title 3 games to 2.
In the World Series the Detroit Tigers beat San Diego 4 games to 1.
Rich Gossage pitched the next three years for the Padres
bringing his four year total stats with San Diego to 25 wins, 83 saves, and a
On February 12, 1988 the Padres
traded Gossage and Ray Hayward to the Chicago Cubs for Mike Brumley and
At the age of 36, Gossage pitched in 46 games for the Cubs
in 1988. He was 4-4 with 13 saves and a 4.33 era for Don Zimmer’s 77-85 fourth
place finishing Cubs. That season he pitched in 21 games at Wrigley Field going
2-3 with a 5.06 era over 16 innings. 1988 would be Gossage’s only season with
the Cubs; during spring training of 1989 Chicago released the Goose.
Over the next five years Gossage pitched with five different
teams including Oakland, the Rangers, and finishing his career with the Seattle
Rich Gossage pitched his last game on August 8th,
1994 for Seattle against the Rangers in Texas. He pitched the final 3 innings
in a 14-4 Seattle win to earn his 310th
and last career save.
Richard ” Goose” Gossage entered the Hall of Fame in 2008 with
85% of the writers vote in his 9 year on the ballot.
Photos – Bing Image Search, SI, Vintage Cards