Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1979 Topps #180 - Rich Gossage

  • On the front is a picture of a pre-Yankee, pre-facial hair Rich "Goose" Gossage. He hadn't become the famous intimidating stopper that he would be later in his career. It's another "gum stain" card too.
  • Rich Gossage was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 1970 amateur draft. He spent 1970 and 1971 in the minors. Gossage made it to the majors in 1972 and was 7-1 with a 4.28 ERA in 36 games (1 start). In 1973 Rich split time between the minors and the White Sox. He was 0-4 with a 7.43 ERA in 20 games (4 starts) for Chicago in '73.
  • In 1974 Gossage started the season with the White Sox but was sent to the minors to make two starts in May. His record in 1974 was 4-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 39 games (3 starts). Rich had his first big season as a reliever in 1975. He led the AL in saves with 26 and he had a 9-8 record with a 1.94 ERA. Rich made his first All Star team in 1975.
  • For some reason in 1976 the White Sox converted Gossage to a starting pitcher. He made the All Star team again but had a 9-17 record with a 3.94 ERA in 1976. After the 1976 season Gossage was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates with Terry Forster for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez. Rich went back to the bullpen (he never started another game in his career) and made the NL All Star team. Rich was 11-9 with a 1.62 ERA and had 26 saves.
  • Rich left the Pirates as a free agent after the 1977 season and signed with the New York Yankees. The Yankees already had a great reliever (Sparky Lyle) and Sparky wasn't happy about the signing. He was an All-Star again, led the AL in saves (27), and was 6th in Cy Young Award voting. Rich had a win and a save in the 1978 American League Championship Series and had a win in the World Series as well.
  • The 1979 season wasn't as good for Gossage or for the Yankees. He missed almost two months of the season after a thumb injury sustained in a clubhouse fight with Cliff Johnson. Rich didn't make the All Star team for the first time since 1974 and had only 18 saves in 36 games.
  • Gossage bounced back in 1980 and led the AL with 33 saves. He was an All Star again and finished third in MVP and Cy Young award balloting. Here is a September 29, 1980 Sports Illustrated article about his season. Rich pitched in only one game in the 1980 ALCS and gave up a 3-run home run to George Brett as the Royals finally got past the Yankees and into the World Series. Here is an April 1981 Baseball Digest article about Gossage.
  • Gossage had another good year in 1981 (AL All Star, 3-2 with a 0.77 ERA, 20 saves in the strike-shortened season). Rich had saves in all three Yankee victories in the 1981 ALDS and the series-clinching save against the Oakland A's in the ALCS. He also saved both of the Yankee wins in the World Series but it wasn't enough as the LA Dodgers won the series in six games.
  • Rich made his last AL All Star team in 1982 and had 30 saves. He had another nice year in 1983 (13-5, 2.27 ERA, 22 saves). He was granted free agency after the '83 season and signed with the San Diego Padres. Gossage helped lead the Padres to the World Series by going 10-6 with a 2.90 ERA and 25 saves. He had the series-clinching save in the National League Championship Series, but he didn't pitch much in the World Series.
  • Gossage continued to be the main closer for the Padres through the 1986 season. He finished 30 games in the 1987 season but his save total was down. After the '87 season Rich was traded to the Chicago Cubs. He spent the 1988 season with the Cubs and saved 13 games, but was released in spring training of 1989. Gossage signed with the San Francisco Giants and pitched for them until August 16, when he was waived. The Yankees selected Rich and he finished the season with New York.
  • Rich missed the entire 1990 season and then signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent in 1991. He pitched a few games in the minors and then appeared in 40 games, mostly as a setup man. Gossage left as a free agent after the season and signed with the Oakland A's. Rich was mostly a setup man for the A's in 1992 and 1993. The A's released Gossage during spring training in 1994. The Seattle Mariners picked him up and he pitched one season with the Mariners before retiring after the 1994 season.
  • Rich Gossage retired with a record of 124-104, a 3.01 ERA, and 310 saves in 1002 games pitched. Gossage was basically a one-pitch pitcher, but that pitch was one heck of a fastball that was usually in the upper 90s. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008. Gossage owns a burger joint in Parker, Colorado called Burgers and Sports.
  • Here is an April 1992 Baseball Digest article in which Goose recalls his Yankee days.
  • Here is an October 2000 Baseball Digest "Where are they now?" article about Gossage.
  • Goose hated to face Steve Braun (.342), Ken Singleton (.343), and Carl Yastrzemski (.375) and liked to face Rod Carew (.189), Robin Yount (.162), and Amos Otis (.184). All batters with 30 AB or more vs. Gossage.


  1. Goose played the 1990 season in Japan, I believe for the Hawks

  2. I remember the end of Goose's career with those season's in Texas and Oakland. It was always weird to me to see him as a setup guy, even at an adavanced age.