Rich Gossage

Rich Gossage

July 5, 1951
6' 3"
180 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-16-1972 with CHA
Allstar Selections:
1978 RR
Hall of Fame:

With a scowl and an imposing physical presence, Goose Gossage intimidated batters with his blazing fastball as one of baseball's best relievers in the 1970s and 1980s. Originally a starting pitcher, White Sox manager Chuck Tanner made him a closer in 1975, and acquired him in a trade and used him out of the pen in 1977 in Pittsburgh. But the Pirates lost the tall right-hander to the Yankees via free agency after the '77 season, and Goose was on his way. Supplanting Sparky Lyle in the Yanks bullpen, Gossage saved 27 games in 1978 as the Bombers won the World Series. He flourished in New York on the diamond, but bolted after the 1983 season for the Padres, leaving the controversy of Steinbrenner's front office meddling behind. Gossage was never much for playing games or mincing words, and in laid back San Diego he helped the team to their first World Series in 1984. Despite throwing very hard with a motion that seemed to propel his entire body toward the plate, Gossage never suffered a serious arm injury. He managed to save 310 games in a 22-year career, and retired with more than 1,000 games under his belt. 

Quotes About Rich Gossage

"If you had Gossage strong, pitching four or five times a week, my goodness, it's scary to think about how good he'd be." — Tony LaRussa

Quotes From Rich Gossage

"It's just very insulting to me that Dennis Eckersley would go in before Bruce Sutter and myself. I mean, it's nothing against Eckersley. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. But Sutter and me, we changed the role of the relief pitcher. Don't even compare what Mariano [Rivera] does to what we used to do. How many times a year does Mariano come in with a man on base? Very seldom. I was brought into tough situations. And you look at my 1,502 strikeouts, and my (1,809) innings. Those were big strikeouts, and those were grueling innings. Don't even insult me by comparing what I used to do to what the relievers do today." — Gossage, quoted in a column by Dan Graziano of the The Star-Ledger, January 9, 2006. 

"Don't even compare me with Hoffman or Rivera. I'd love to have been used like them. I went and set up for Dennis at Oakland (in 1992 and 1993), so I know the way he was handled, how pampered he was over there. Not to take anything away from these guys, to compare what I did with what they did. ... It was even a joke with the coaches. We joked with Eckersley all the time."


Thurman Munson, Dick Allen, Ryne Sandberg, Graig Nettles, Alex Rodriguez, Rickey Henderson, Mickey Rivers, Tony Gwynn, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Reuss, Dave Stewart, Kent Tekulve, Sparky Lyle, Billy Martin

Best Season: 1978

He fanned 122 batters in 134 1/3 IP, and worked more than two innings per outing. In the World Series against the Dodgers, he allowed one hit and zero runs in six innings out of the pen. He had two very good seasons before he went to the Yanks, with the White Sox in 1975, and the Bucs in 1977. With the Yanks, he was essentially the best reliever in the AL for six seasons.

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1972

Dwight Evans

Buddy Bell

Mike Schmidt

Bob Boone

Gary Matthews

Davey Lopes

Goose Gossage

Rick Reuschel

Garry Maddox


Similar Players

Dick Radatz... Troy Percival had a similar delivery.


Related Players

Kirk Gibson hit a clutch, three-run homer off Gossage in the eighth inning in Game Five of the 1984 World Series. Gossage had convinced Dick Williams that he could strike out Gibson, against whom he had good success previously... In 1983, George Brett hit a monstrous homer off Gossage, which was later ruled an out because of excessive pine tar on his bat. Eventually the homer was allowed in what became known as the Pine Tar Game... Bruce Sutter


Hall of Fame Voting

Year Election Votes Pct

2000 BBWAA 166 33.3%

2001 BBWAA 228 44.3%

2002 BBWAA 203 43.0%

2003 BBWAA 209 42.1%

2004 BBWAA 206 40.7%

2005 BBWAA 285 55.2%

2006 BBWAA 336 64.6%

2007 BBWAA 388 71.2%

2008 BBWAA 466 85.8%


Post-Season Appearances

1978 American League Championship Series

1978 World Series

1980 American League Championship Series

1981 American League Division Playoffs

1981 American League Championship Series

1981 World Series

1984 National League Championship Series

1984 World Series


Awards and Honors

1978 AL Rolaids Relief


June 4, 1970: Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 9th round of the 1970 amateur draft; December 10, 1976: Traded by the Chicago White Sox with Terry Forster to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez; October 28, 1977: Granted Free Agency; November 22, 1977: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; November 7, 1983: Granted Free Agency; January 6, 1984: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Diego Padres; February 12, 1988: Traded by the San Diego Padres with Ray Hayward to the Chicago Cubs for Keith Moreland and Mike Brumley; March 28, 1989: Released by the Chicago Cubs; April 14, 1989: Signed as a Free Agent with the San Francisco Giants; August 10, 1989: Selected off waivers by the New York Yankees from the San Francisco Giants; November 13, 1989: Granted Free Agency; January 25, 1991: Signed as a Free Agent with the Texas Rangers; October 30, 1991: Granted Free Agency; January 27, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; November 6, 1992: Granted Free Agency; December 7, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; October 29, 1993: Granted Free Agency; February 15, 1994: Signed as a Free Agent with the Oakland Athletics; March 30, 1994: Released by the Oakland Athletics; April 3, 1994: Signed as a Free Agent with the Seattle Mariners; October 11, 1994: Granted Free Agency. 


When he was signed by the Yankees as a free agent in 1977, his new teammate, Lou Piniella, was at his side at the press conference. "He's my kind of pitcher," Lou said, "He's a fastball pitcher and I'm a fastball hitter. The only trouble is, I can't hit his."


All-Star Selections 

1975 AL

1976 AL

1977 NL

1978 AL

1980 AL

1981 AL

1982 AL

1984 NL

1985 NL



Goose replaced Sparky Lyle as the relief ace for the Yankees. Prior to that, he pitched in the pen with Kent Tekulve in Pittsburgh, and briefly replaced Terry Forster as the White Sox relief ace. When he left Pittsburgh as a free agent follwing the 1977 season, one Pirate executive revealed: "We were worried about one thing, we didn't want him to go to Philadelphia. If he did, we couldn't compete with them."


Replaced By

The Yankees replaced Gossage with converted starter Dave Righetti, after he left via free agency. The Goose's last job as a primary relief ace was with Don Zimmer's Cubs in 1988. After they let him go early in '89, the Cubs used Mitch Williams to fill that role.


Best Strength as a Player

Command of his fastball and tendency to instill fear in the minds of hitters.


Largest Weakness as a Player

In 32 games against the Yankees (two as a starter), Gossage posted a 5.88 ERA with just one save. Of course, much of that came in his days with the ChiSox, before he honed his skills.


1978 World Series, 1980 ALCS, All-Star, Baseball History, Chicago White Sox, Cliff Johnson, Dave Winfield, George Brett, Hall of Fame, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rich Gossage, Rolaids Relief Award, Ron Guidry, San Diego Padres, Save
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