Richard Michael "Goose" Gossage (born July 5, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed relief pitcher. During a 22-year baseball career, he pitched from 1972-1994 for nine different teams, spending his best years with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. The nickname "Goose" is a play on his surname. Although otherwise known as "Rich" in popular media, to family and friends he is "Rick".
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was one of the earliest manifestations of the dominating modern closer, with wild facial hair and a gruff demeanor to go along with his blistering fastball. He led the American League in saves three times and was runnerup twice; by the end of the 1987 season he ranked second in major league history in career saves, trailing only Rollie Fingers, although by the end of his career his final total of 310 had slipped to fourth all-time. When he retired he also ranked third in major league history in career games pitched (1,002), and he remains third in wins in relief (115) and innings pitched in relief (1,556⅔); his 1,502 strikeouts place him behind only Hoyt Wilhelm among pitchers who primarily pitched in relief. He also is the career leader in blown saves (112), three more than Rollie Fingers. From 1977 through 1983 he never recorded an earned run average over 2.62, including a mark of 0.77 in Template:By, and in Template:By he finished third in AL voting for both the MVP Award and Cy Young Award as the Yankees won a division title.
Respected for his impact in crucial games, he recorded the final out to clinch a division, league or World Series title seven times. His eight All-Star selections as a reliever were a record until Mariano Rivera passed him in 2008; he was also selected once as a starting pitcher. He now works in broadcasting. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Pioneer of the closer roleEdit
The New York Yankees of the late 1970s and early 1980s arguably pioneered the set-up/closer configuration, which is used by every team today. The most effective pairing was Ron Davis and Gossage, with Davis typically entering the game in the 7th or 8th innings and Gossage finishing up. During one stretch with that pairing, the Yankees won 77 of 79 games in which they led after six innings.
One difference between Gossage and more recent closers is that Gossage often pitched as many as three innings to finish a game, while modern closers typically pitch only the ninth inning.
During his career, Gossage pitched in 1,002 games and finished 681 of them, earning 310 saves. Per every nine innings pitched, Gossage averaged 7.45 hits allowed and 7.47 strikeouts. He also made nine All-Star appearances and pitched in three World Series.
Gossage led the American League in saves in 1975 (26), 1978 (27) and 1980 (33). On October 2, Template:By, he earned the save in the Yankees' one-game playoff against the Boston Red Sox for the AL East title, entering with one out in the seventh inning and a 4-2 lead following Bucky Dent's home run; although he allowed two runs in the eighth inning, he held on to preserve the 5-4 victory, getting Carl Yastrzemski to pop up to third baseman Graig Nettles with two out and two men on base in the ninth inning to clinch the division championship. He was also on the mound five days later when the Yankees clinched the pennant in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals, entering Game 4 in the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead and a runner on second base; he earned the save by striking out Clint Hurdle and retiring Darrell Porter and Pete LaCock on fly balls. He was on the mound ten days later when they captured the World Series title against the Los Angeles Dodgers for their second consecutive championship, coming on with no one out in the eighth inning of Game 6; he retired Ron Cey on a popup to catcher Thurman Munson to clinch the win.
One of his most impressive performances was on Sept. 3, 1978, in a game vs. the Seattle Mariners. Replacing Sparky Lyle in the top of the 9th with runners on second and third and no outs, he preserved a 4-3 lead by striking out the next three batters in 11 pitches. He http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8IEyAAAAIBAJ&sjid=rOYFAAAAIBAJ&dq=gossage&pg=5397%2C402722</ref>]
</ref>He He missed some of the 1979 season with the Yankees due to a thumb injury sustained in a locker-room fight with teammate Cliff Johnson. Ron Guidry, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, volunteered to go to the bullpen to replace him. In the first game of a doubleheader on October 4, Template:By, Gossage pitched the last two innings of a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers, earning his career-high 33rd save as New York clinched another division title. On October 10, George Brett of the Royals hit a tide-turning three-run homer off Gossage into Yankee Stadium's right-field upper deck to lead the Royals to a three-game sweep in the AL Championship Series, after the Yankees had defeated the Royals in three consecutive ALCS from 1976 to 1978. Almost three years later during the regular season, Brett got to the Goose again in the Bronx, blasting a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the ninth in a game memorialized as the "Pine Tar Game."
Gossage recorded saves in all three Yankee victories in the 1981 AL Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers, not allowing a run in 6⅔ innings, and he was again the final pitcher when they clinched the 1981 pennant against the Oakland Athletics. In Template:By, his last season with the Yankees, Gossage broke Sparky Lyle's club record of 141 career saves; Dave Righetti passed his final total of 150 in Template:By. Gossage holds the Yankees' career record for ERA (2.14) and hits per nine innings (6.59) among pitchers with at least 500 innings for the team.
In eight of his first ten seasons as a closer, Gossage's ERA was less than 2.27.  Over his career, right-handed hitters hit .211 against him.
In 1984, Gossage clinched another title, earning the save in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series and sending the Padres to their first World Series; after San Diego had scored four runs in the seventh inning to take a 6-3 lead against the Chicago Cubs, Gossage pitched the final two innings, getting Keith Moreland to hit into a force play for the final out. On August 17, Template:By, Gossage struck out Pete Rose in Rose's final major league at bat. On August 6, Template:By, while with the Cubs, Gossage became the second pitcher to record 300 career saves in a 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, coming into the game with two out in the ninth and two men on base and retiring Phil Bradley on a popup to second baseman Ryne Sandberg.
On July 23, Template:By, while Gossage was with the Texas Rangers, a statistical coincidence was noted when he recorded his 308th career save to preserve Nolan Ryan's 308th win. On August 4, Template:By, Gossage became the third pitcher in major league history to appear in 1,000 games. Pitching for the Seattle Mariners against the California Angels, he entered the game with two out in the seventh inning and runners on second and third base, trailing 2-1; he picked up the win when the Mariners scored three times in the eighth for a 4-2 victory. In his final major league appearance on August 8, he earned a save of three innings – his first save in over 15 months – in the Mariners' 14-4 win over the Rangers, retiring all nine batters he faced; José Canseco hit a fly ball to left field to end the game.
Goose Gossage was one of the few pitchers who employed basically just one pitch, a fastball. However, his fastball was one of the best of all time, routinely throwing in the 98 - 102 mph range in his prime, with pinpoint accuracy. Occasionally he would throw a slurve or a changeup, but mainly just came right at hitters with heat, not afraid to knock them down to keep them from crowding the inner half of the strike zone. Despite his reputation as a pitcher who intentionally threw at hitters, Goose stated that he only threw at three hitters in his career: Ron Gant, Andrés Galarraga, and Al Bumbry. Even into his 40s, in the early 1990s, he still threw regularly in the mid-90s, though he did not close games as often as he did in his youth, serving as a capable and intimidating setup man.
Gossage had a reputation as a no-nonsense no-frills pitcher who wasted no time on the mound. Throwing only one pitch left little need for communicating with the catcher. Goose would stand on the mound and pitch from the stretch position as soon as the batter was in the batters box.
Gossage lives in his home town, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is active in the community promoting and sponsoring youth sports. In 1995, the city of Colorado Springs dedicated the Rich "Goose" Gossage Youth Sports Complex, which features five fields for youth baseball and softball competition. He also owned a hamburger joint in Parker, Colorado, called Burgers N Sports.
He has written an autobiography, released in 2000, entitled The Goose is Loose (Ballantine: New York).
Gossage coached the American League team in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game in Anaheim, CA on July 12, 2010.
At the Hall of Fame induction in 2008, Gossage expressed gratitude to a number of baseball people who had helped him through his career, and several times described his Hall of Fame week experience as "amazing". The inductions included Dick Williams, his manager at San Diego. After the ceremonies, the two of them sat together for an ESPN interview on the podium, taking audience questions and gently ribbing each other, especially about the upper-deck home run Kirk Gibson hit in the 1984 World Series.
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