January 8, 2008 - 12:26PM
Colorado Springs' Rick "Goose" Gossage will join the baseball Hall of Fame on July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Gossage was elected to the Class of 2008 in balloting by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which announced the results today.
Gossage, who played for Wasson High School, was elected in his ninth year of eligibility. He finished third in the voting for the Class of 2007, but did not have the minimum number of votes required to join Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwynn.
This year, 543 ballots, including three blanks, were cast by BBWAA members. Players must be named on 75 percent of ballots submitted to be elected. This year, 408 votes were required.
Gossage was listed on 466 ballots or 85.8%, a gain of 14.6 percent over his percentage in 2007 when he finished 21 votes shy of the necessary 75 percent.
Gossage becomes the 286th member elected to the Hall. Gossage is the 61st pitcher overall elected to the Hall and the fifth reliever, joining Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley and Bruce Sutter.
Finishing 16 votes short of election was former Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice, who was named on 392 ballots (72.2%) in trying to become the first left fielder elected to the Hall since former teammate Carl Yastrzemski in 1989. Rice has one more year remaining on the ballot. Players remain on the ballot for up to 15 years provided they receive at least five percent of the vote.
The only other players to be listed on more than half the ballots were outfielder Andre Dawson with 358 votes (65.9) and pitcher Bert Blyleven with 336 (61.9). Rounding out the top 10 were pitchers Lee Smith, Jack Morris and Tommy John; outfielder Tim Raines, first baseman Mark McGwire and shortstop Alan Trammell.
The voters recognized and rewarded Gossage's contribution to the nine teams he played for in his 22-year major league career. With a scowl, intimidating style and a very hard fastball, Gossage was mostly a relief pitcher in a time when relief pitchers often pitched for two or three innings. Current closers rarely pitch more than one inning.
The Chicago White Sox drafted Gossage in the 9th round of the 1970 amateur draft after he graduated from Wasson.
He made his major league debut for the White Sox on April 16, 1972, pitching an inning of scoreless relief against the Kansas City Royals.
Gossage took over the closer’s role with Chicago full-time in 1975, made his first All-Star team, led the American League with 27 saves and finished sixth in Cy Young Award voting.
In 1976, Gossage took the hill as the starting pitcher in Chicago’s second game of the season. He held Minnesota to one run on three hits while throwing the first of 15 complete games in his only season as a starter.
After being traded by Chicago with Terry Forster to Pittsburgh for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez, Gossage finished third in the National League with 26 saves in 1977 in his only season with the Pirates.
Granted free agency after the 1977 season, Gossage signed with the New York Yankees and began a dominating six-year run. The highlight of his time in New York came when he pitched the final two innings of a World Series-clinching Game 6 victory over the Los Angles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium.
Gossage signed with San Diego before the 1984 season. He saved 25 games and won 10 more in helping the Padres win their first division title. He was on the mound when the Padres beat the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the best-of-5 series to advance to their first World Series.
After three years with the Padres, Gossage was traded to the Cubs in February 1988. The trade began a stretch in which Gossage pitched for six teams in six seasons before retiring in 1994 following a year with Seattle.