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WHITESOXINTERACTIVE.COM. Totally Biased Coverage of the Chicago White Sox!

Goose to the Hall!

By Mark Liptak

It took a few years but Monday afternoon came the news that “Goose” Gossage and his family were longing for, he had made the baseball Hall of Fame.

Gossage got 85.6 per cent of the vote, far more then enough for admission in his 9th year of eligibility.

Many fans will remember him from his days on the Yankee dynasty teams of the late 70’s but fans in Chicago, especially on the South Side, will remember him as a raw boned, hard throwing youngster who intimidated hitters even before he grew his fearsome moustache.

With the White Sox from 1972 through 1976, Gossage made two All Star Teams and was voted the league Fireman of the Year in 1975. His rookie season of 1972 he went 7-1 with the only loss coming at the end of the season when he begged manager Chuck Tanner for a start and got shelled in Minnesota. In his league leading season of 1975 he threw 141 innings with 130 strikeouts, a 1.84 ERA and 26 saves.

Gossage was part of the Sox youth corps that also included pitchers Terry Forster and Bart Johnson whom Tanner and pitching coach Johnny Sain threw right into the fire of big league competition. “I thought it would be tough on hitters after seeing someone else for the first six innings or so to have to try to get around on the pitches that Gossage and Forster were throwing,” said Tanner when asked why he took the chance of bringing up his inexperienced kid pitchers and in flaunting tradition stick them in the bullpen.

Then Sox G.M. Roland Hemond remembered his first meeting with Gossage. “I went up to Appleton (Wisconsin) to see him pitch in 1971, that was the year he went 18-2 and he asked me what I thought…what was his future going to look like, and I remember telling him, ‘think big leagues’ because we were going to bring him to the big league camp the next season. That was 1972 and he got guys out in Florida and we decided to bring him north.”

Gossage at first was purely a power pitcher who threw hard but sometimes not always over the plate but after working with Sain, according to Tanner, Goose finally learned both his deadly slider as well as a change.

Wilbur Wood, four time 20 game winner, and a teammate of Gossage’s from 1972 through 1976 was asked what it felt like to be in the dugout watching him throw on those rare times when Wood wasn’t able to finish a game or go into the late innings. “It was game over,” he said laughingly. “It was a comfortable feeling sitting there watching hitters have to face him after they saw me for six or seven innings. He threw twice as hard as I did. He had a great fastball”

In 1976 when Bill Veeck took over Gossage found himself in a different role…Hemond explained. “Bill knew that we weren’t going to be a very good team and he said to move both Gossage and Forster into the starting rotation. His view was that they weren’t going to get a lot of save chances in the first place because we weren’t going to have the lead a lot of times late in the game.”

That year, for a team that went 64-97, Goose went 9-17 with15 complete games, a save, and an ERA of 3.94. That was good enough to make the All Star Team as the Sox lone representative in Philadelphia. He also had 135 strikeouts in 224 innings of work. That off season both he and Forster were shipped to Pittsburgh for slugger Richie Zisk and pitcher Silvio Martinez.

My personal memories of Goose are two fold. The first came on June 7, 1972 when I was sitting in the left center field stands at Comiskey Park watching the Sox play Boston. With the Sox leading 2-1 in the 7th, Tanner brought in Gossage to replace starter Stan Bahnsen. It was his 11th appearance in a big league game. I immediately screamed out loudly “what are you trying to do, lose the game?” All Gossage did was throw three scoreless innings allowing two hits and striking out a pair to get his first save in the big leagues. When I interviewed Chuck Tanner for White Sox Interactive, I told him that story and he started laughing. The other time came in 1976 when Goose was standing near the 3rd base box seat railings before the game. I had a chance to say hello to him and got an autograph out of the deal. Yes I still have it.

It took awhile but Goose Gossage can finally say he’s now among the best to ever play the game and White Sox fans can say with pride, ‘we saw him at the beginning.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you have any questions, opinions, comments or criticisms of the following story, feel free to contact me at mliptak1@msn.com


Editor's Note: Mark Liptak is an experienced sports journalist, holding several awards for both his electronic and print media work. He has held numerous sports reporting positions for various TV and newspaper organizations, including Director of Sports for KNOE-TV (Monroe, Louisiana) and KPVI-TV (Pocatello, Idaho), and sports writer for the Idaho Falls Free Press, where his column "Lip Service" has appeared for for a number of years. "Lip", his wife, and cats presently live in Chubbuck, Idaho, where they collectively comprise 100 percent of the Pocatello River Valley's long-time Sox Fan population.

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