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Friday, May 6, 2016

BASIC BIITTNER - What's good for the Goose ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last Sunday, July 27, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, inducted their latest class of new members. First and foremost of the new inductees was Rich "Goose" Gossage, the fireballing right handed pitcher with the memorable glowering stare, located just north of his Fu Manchu mustache. Between the stare, the 'stache, and - oh yeah - a 98 mph fastball and an occasional wild streak, "Goose" struck terror in the hearts of major league batters in both leagues throughout his long career with the White Sox, Pirates, Yankees Padres, and four other teams. He had success in both leagues, as well as success as both a starter and reliever - though he is definitely remembered the most for his role as a "closer" coming out of the bullpen. He started his career as a closer, switched to starting, then moved back to the 'pen as a veteran closer, before acting as set up man for Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley when both were with the A's. Gossage finished his career as a Seattle Mariner in 1994 with a 124-107 record, 1,502 strikeouts -- nearly one an inning -- and a 3.01 ERA. His 310 saves are 17th on the all-time list, but he never had more than 33 saves in a single season -- 1980 with the Yankees. Gossage was the only player elected by the baseball writers - in his ninth year of eligibility.

One of the other new inductees, elected by the Veteran's Committee, is Dick Williams. A utility player for several teams in hs 13 years in the "bigs," Williams is one of those guys, like Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver and Tommy Lasorda,who found his niche as a manager, and he immediately skippered a pennant winner in his first season in Boston, in 1967. He went on to manage the Oakland A's of the early '70s to their first two World Series titles, and in 1984 skippered the Padres, including Gossage, to their first World series appearance.

The late Bowie Kuhn, who served as Baseball Commissioner through most of Gossage and Williams' time in the bigs, was also elected to the Hall this year, as was former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, the man who brought MLB to the West Coast and was hated in Brooklyn until the day he died. I was actually a little surprised to learn that O'Malley wasn't selected to the Hall many years ago. The other two new inductees this year - former Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss and Cardinal and Brave manager Billy Southworth - were both "before my time."

The Baseball Writers of America will hold an election of its members again later this year, and the only newly-eligible candidate who would seem to be a candidate for induction appears to be Rickey Henderson, the single-season and career leader in stolen bases and runs scored. He used to be the career leader in bases on balls, too, but Barry Bonds may have passed him in that category. Henderson should be a lock as the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of the game, but he kind of messed around his last few years, refusing to retire, so he may wind up not being the first ballot shoo-in he should be. We'll see.

Because of the dearth of good first-time candidates, this may be the year for three deserving candidates who have been waiting for their just dues for over a decade to finally see their day arrive. Seventy-five per cent of the writers' vote is required for election, and last year, former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice received 72.2 %, former Expos and Cubs' all-around performer Andre Dawson 65.9% , and curveballer par excellence Bert "he'll always be a Twin to me" Blyleven 61.9%. Maybe - just maybe - it's time to vote at least one, if not all three, of these superb performers into the Hall.

After all, what's good for "The Goose" ...

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner