Dreams Come True for Goose Gossage

It was the signature moment in the career of Hall of Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage.

October 2, 1978, a cool, crisp New England afternoon in Boston. Hint of autumn in the year. Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park. American League East title and a playoff berth on the line.

A game within a season, and a season within a game. Winner makes the playoffs, and the loser goes home. Does it get any better than this?

“I wanted the ball in those situations,” Gossage said in an interview with Memories and Dreams, the Hall of Fame magazine. “This was the biggest game I ever pitched in — by far. It seemed like the playoffs and World Series were anticlimactic after that.”

Goose to the Rescue

Be careful what you wish for. That afternoon, Gossage came on to relieve Ron Guidry with one out in the seventh inning. The Yankees had just taken the lead on Bucky Dent’s three-run homer.

The Goose wasn’t perfect that day. He gave up a couple of runs in the eighth and stood there on the Fenway hill in the ninth, two outs, runners on the corners, Yankees leading 5-4, Carl Yastrzemski coming to bat.

The night before, Gossage had dreamed up this exact situation. Dreams really can come true.

Gossage kicked around the mound, fussing, muttering to himself. Then it hit him.

“I starting telling myself  ‘Why are you so nervous?’ Goose recalled. “This is supposed to be fun. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you lose, you’ll be back home in Colorado tomorrow hunting elk.”

Relaxed, Gossage got Yaz to pop out to Graig Nettles at third, and the Yankees were on their way to their 22nd World Series title.

22 Years, 310 Saves

DSCN2300 Through his 22 years in the major leagues, Goose Gossage pitched for nine different clubs, saved 310 games, won 124 and fanned 1,502 batters in 1,810 innings of work. He led the AL in saves three times and was selected to nine All-Star teams–six AL squads and three NL clubs.

It took him a long time to get there, but the Goose was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame on a hot Sunday afternoon in July, 2008. Making the trek through the Catskills to Cooperstown, I was there to cheer Gossage on, to bellow “Goose” a few more times.

Although Gossage made it back to the World Series in 1981 with the Yankees and 1984 with the Padres, 1978 was his only championship. Several of his teammates from that 1978 squad, which made up a 14-game deficit to beat the Red Sox, were there to see Goose go into the Hall. Reggie Jackson, now a fellow Hall of Famer. Jim Beattie, Mickey Rivers, Graig Nettles and Roy White.

“I’m proud to wear a Yankee cap into the Hall of Fame and be part of their tradition,” told the crowd at Cooperstown.

Some dreams do come true, Some memories do last a lifetime.

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