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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Goose Gossage in Hall all by himself

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Goose Gossage in Hall all by himself

It is a moment I won’t soon forget, when moments, it was announced that Rich “Goose” Gossage was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on his ninth time on the ballot.

Gossage is only the fifth major league baseball reliever to be named to the hallowed hall and it may be fitting that he enters it alone.

There is a fondness in my heart for seeing Goose Gossage go in, meeting him just over a year ago in Clifton Park as part of the 2006 Babe Ruth World Series Banquet of Champions.

Involved in the event as the media chairperson, I was part of the group that decided to track down the former New York Yankee reliever, his agent and discuss his potential appearance.

Needless to say, he was worth every penny the committee and its sponsors paid to fly him from his home in Colorado Springs to Albany International for the opening evening’s festivities.

Just like he did on television throughout his years, Goose carried himself with confidence, but what I found amazing was the kindness that he showed to everyone he came in contact with during his short stay in Saratoga County.

I was at Albany International awaiting the Torrance, California squad to land from their long trip East and Goose was probably one plane in front of the eventual 13-15 year-old World Series Champions.

Just like walking out of the television and into real life, there he was coming down the escalator. His size, amazing, and his signature Fu Manchu mustache unmistakable, just a little grayer than it had been during his playing days, there in front of myself and host president, Bill Butler, was Rich “Goose” Gossage.

He came down with a big smile, carrying his own bag and an even bigger handshake. He truly is a mountain of a man.

After a few quick hellos, greetings and of course, autographs from passing fans, he was ready for a quick bite to eat and then off to the hotel.

With a few moments left, I was able to ask Goose to stop by and meet our charter bus driver from local business, Yankee Trails, who was making his sixth and final trip back to Clifton Park, hauling teenage baseball players from the airport to Clifton Common. He admitted being a huge Goose Gossage fan and it seemed only fitting that he too, have a thrill of a lifetime.

He was shocked to see Goose walk right up to him and shake his hand and share a few memories as a fan and as a player. Our driver was in such awe that he almost forgot to get his autograph, but we made sure that happened before he left for dinner.

The next day was a blur for most of the volunteers, but for the players, coaches and fans at the Banquet of Champions Picnic, it was something where time stood still and they remember fondly.

Goose provided the World Series players with their own private autograph signing session, chatting with the players and their coaches before the picnic officially got underway.

After a quick one-on-one with a local television affiliate (Roger, you still owe me!) he was our guest speaker underneath the enormous picnic tent. He was a gracious and quick speaker for our guests and looked forward to more hand-shaking and autograph signing.

I’m not kidding when Goose signed for everyone, the fans, the players, the volunteers, the band and everyone else. He never flinched when we ran a little over his allotted time.

Then as quick as he arrived, he was off. He had a 6 a.m. flight back home and we had a lot of baseball to play.

Every time we think of the 2006 Clifton Park Babe Ruth World Series, Rich “Goose” Goosage’s name has come up, with all of us waiting for this day to come and all share in the memory of that day in August, under the tent in Clifton Park and how we spoke, laughed and shook hands with a Hall of Famer.

Congrats Goose, from all of us.



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