The hard-throwing Gossage was one of the most consistent relief pitchers ever. His 310 saves placed him eighth on the all-time save list and his 115 relief victories ranked third all-time behind Hoyt Wilhelm and Lindy McDaniel. The hard thrower began his career in 1974 with a mediocre season for the White Sox, but broke through in 1975 with nine wins and 26 saves. The White Sox made him a starter in 1976, but Gossage went 9-17 and never started another game. Traded to the Pirates along with Terry Forster for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez, Goose had an outstanding year (11-9, 1.62 ERA, 26 saves) but his one-year tenure in Pittsburgh ended when he signed as a free agent with the Yankees after the season. In New York, Goose inherited the stopper role from the previous year’s Cy Young winner, Sparky Lyle, and went 10-11 with 27 saves. He pitched 134 innings, fourth-highest on the entire staff, and saved the AL East playoff game against the Red Sox. He was on the mound when New York clinched their second consecutive pennant and World Championship.
Gossage’s 1979 season was cut short following a clubhouse scuffle with Cliff Johnson, but he came back to save a career-high 33 games in 1980. He allowed George Brett’s series-clinching home run in Game Three of the LCS. Gossage was extremely effective during the strike-shortened 1981 season, allowing just 22 hits in 47 innings to go with 48 strikeouts and 20 saves. He saved all three wins over Milwaukee during the divisional playoffs and both Yankees wins over the Dodgers in the World Series. Following two more seasons in New York (30 saves in 1982, 13-5 with 22 saves in 1983), he signed with the Padres as a free agent and helped them reach the World Series in 1984. Gossage compiled 72 saves during his first three seasons with the Padres, but slumped after being traded to the Chicago Cubs in a deal for Keith Moreland in 1988 and was released at the end of the season.
The veteran stopper, by this point relegated to duty as a setup man, caught on with the San Francisco Giants in 1989 but was placed on waivers during the season and re-signed with the Yankees for the remainder of the year. Teams expressed little interest in his services for the 1990 season, so Gossage left in July to join the Fukoka Daiei Hawks of the Japan Pacific League. In Japan, he saved eight games and had a 4.40 earned run average. Returning to the United States, Gossage signed with the Texas Rangers for the 1991 season. After a mediocre year he went to Oakland and enjoyed a brief revival, sporting a 2.84 earned run average in ’92. Goose finally called it quits after spending two disappointing years with Oakland and Seattle in 1993 and 1994. (EG/DT)