Tuesday, January 29, 2008

#54 - Rich Gossage

When a Hall of Fame pitcher starts out in your organization and ends up playing his second longest tenure with your team, he generally deserves accolades. Lack of more deserving contenders also contribute to this selection. Rich "Goose" Gossage will always wear number 54 for the White Sox. It's going to take another Hall of Famer with a longer tenure or a clear fan favorite to unseat Goose.

Rich was on the White Sox from 1972 until 1976. During that time, he went back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation. He saved 26 games in 1975, but threw 15 complete games out of 29 started in 1976 with 1 save.

Despite the success in 1975 in the closer role, Rich was needed in the starting rotation in 1976. I'm not sure if it was because of a team need in the rotation or if the White Sox didn't realize what they had in a closer. Rich posted his White Sox best ERA as a closer in 1975 with 1.84.

More than likely it had to do with Chuck Tanner leaving as skipper of the White Sox after the 1975 season. The new manager in 1976, Paul Richards, probably had his own agenda. One which didn't involve Goose as a closer.

Probably most telling is that Rich never started another game after he left the White Sox. He went on to become the premier closer for many teams over many years. He was traded with Terry Forster to the Pirates for Richie Zisk and Silvio Martinez. Goose was back under the management of Chuck Tanner and he went back to the role of closer.

Rich was starting to emerge as a player at the tail end of his White Sox tenure. He made the All-Star team in 1975 and 1976 with the Sox. He led the league in saves in 1975. With all the success later in his career it's hard to remember that Rich started on the White Sox. For what it's worth, the Goose started to be on loose on the White Sox.

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