Most baseball fans, real fans, are aware of the modern day Closer and his effect on the game. And we’ve certainly seen two of the best during the past decade in Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera (Mo).
But before the rise of the modern day Closer, you have to give it up for the old school Closers: they came to the mound with the game on the line and pitched for several innings!
One of the best of his time was Rich “Goose” Gossage who I was lucky enough to see throw at the old Yankee stadium.
Bill James is quoted as saying that from 1975 to 1984 his fastball was the best among Closers, regularly hurling it between 98 and 102 mph.
Like Mo, Gossage relied on 2 pitches: his heater and a slurve. But one thing he has on Mo is that in those days, Closers and Relief pitchers threw for 2-3 innings, combining the roles of what we are familiar with today from the “set-up guy” to the Closer. Goose did both.
To this day, Gossage remains on the All Time Top 10 List of Games Finished although he has not thrown a ball since his retirement in 1994.
Goose turns 61 today. Happy Birthday Goose!