Richard Michael "Goose" Gossage (born July 5, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed relief pitcher. During a 22-year baseball career (from 1972-1994), he pitched for nine different teams, spending his best years with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. The nickname "Goose" came about when a friend did not like his previous nickname "Goss", and noted he looked like a goose when he extended his neck to read the signs given by the catcher when he was pitching. Although Gossage is otherwise generally referred to as "Rich" in popular media, a baseball field named after him bears the name "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 runner-up twice; by the end of the 1987 season he ranked second in major-league career saves, trailing only Rollie Fingers, although by the end of his career his total of 310 had slipped to fourth all-time. When he retired he also ranked third in major-league 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 pitched primarily in relief. He also is the career leader in blown saves (112). From 1977 through 1983 he never recorded an earned run average over 2.62, including a mark of 0.77 in 1981, and in 1980 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, Gossage 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 was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. He now works in broadcasting.
By Dean Hanley
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