Goose Gossage, top reliever from the 70s and 80s, finally got his due. In his ninth year of eligibility, he was the lone selection by the writers.
Goose is known primarily for his years with the New York Yankees, a stretch of six years where he pitched well enough to even be considered for the MVP and Cy Young (he was third in voting in both in 1980).
That said, he did pitch and pitched well for the White Sox and the Padres where he put together strings of five years each. It was with the Sox in 1976 when he pitched his last start. That year he started 29 games going 9-17 with a 3.94 ERA.
Since then, he didn’t look back and his role was defined. Throughout his career he garnered 310 saves, leading the league three times. He currently is 17th all-time in that category, that record succumbing to the specialization of the bullpen ace.
Like Bruce Sutter who was selected two years before him, Gossage revolutionized the role the bullpen ace. Stats aside, he was part of baseball’s change of bullpen strategy. How it approached the late innings.
As much as this story is about Gossage, it also about those who didn’t get in. I don’t remember a year where so many players were on ballot who many feel could be easily justified entry into the Hall.
The Jim Rice debate has been going on for years. He missed this year by 16 votes. Andre Dawson (third in voting this year) has been a favorite of many fans. I’ve always felt Bert Blyleven deserves a nod but he’s never gotten higher than 53.3% of the vote until this year. This time around, BB came close(r) with 61.9% of the vote.
Lee Smith, Dave Concepcion, Dale Murphy, the list goes on.
Then, of course there is Mark McGwire. I get the feeling that for most people, it’s a hot/cold issue. Either you throw out any substance issues out the windows and cast your ballot or you don’t. This year, 128 writers felt he was HOF-worthy and that ain’t gonna cut it.
Rod “Shooter” Beck garned two post-mortem votes. But Travis Fryman?goose gossage, Hall of Fame
Let’s hear it for Jay Buhner. He got one vote. Buhner never expected to be on the ballot let alone get any votes. He certainly had the right perspective on the whole matter:
“I didn’t even know I was on the ballot until someone sent it to me on an e-mail two weeks ago,” he said. “Truthfully, it’s flattering to be even mentioned with the names on there, for God’s sakes.”
The HOF voting can be found here.
Ripken’s 98.53% was the third highest in history and highest by position player. A lot has been made of this but I think the voting percentage issue has been overblown by the media.
Tony Gwynn wasn’t far behind with 97.6%. I’ve always felt Tony belonged but never saw him on the same level as Ripken. Then Teddy Ballgame pointed out to me that among those with 3000 hits, Gwynn has the 4th highest batting average. I have to admire the combination of longevity and statistical excellence.
Of course, Mark McGwire didn’t make it. I didn’t think he would. There are still those detractors out there who insist that despite the fact he was 17 homeruns shy of 600 and played on 12 All-Star teams, they voted purely on his stats. I call shenanigans. If you let the cloud of steroids affect your vote, just admit it.
Mac’s 23.5% will keep him on the ballot. The only other first-timer who will stay on will be Harold Baines who snuck by with 5.3.% of the vote.
Goose Gossage didn’t make it but I believe his 71.2% showing will bode well for a 2008 performance. It was a crowded field this year and his good showing now may pave the way for the Hall for the Goose in 08.
One more thing. All this talk about McGwire and alleged (let’s not forget nothing has been proved… yet) steroid use hurting his chances… who were the two jokers who voted for Ken Caminiti, a known, admitted user of steroids which more than likely contributed to his death?cal ripken, goose gossage, Hall of Fame, jay buhner, mark mcgwire