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Tom McEwen

The late Tom McEwen, sports editor of The Tampa Times from 1958-62 before being named sports editor of The Tampa Tribune in 1962, graced the Tribune sports section with his award-winning column, The Morning After, and his Breakfast Bonus notes columns were a signature offering from the 19-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year. McEwen died in June, 2011 at the age of 88. His wife, Linda, occasionally contributes past columns and exerpts to this blog.

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Goose and the Hall Are a Perfect Fit

Posted Jul 27, 2008 by Tom McEwen

Updated Jul 27, 2008 at 09:31 PM

Finally, Goose Gossage is in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Good. And, I do not take that position lightly. I have sat on these selection committees. I know the difficulties. I know the competition.  It is far more than it seems. Oh, a little political, a little personal, a little geographical.  It was not a piece of cake for Lee Roy Selmon and football’s Hall of Fame. I know.  I was his sponsor, and geeeze, how qualified was he? 

It was the ninth nomination for the Hall for the Goose. 

But, this time, he made it easily, and was the only player elected.

It took a lot of qualified players, and managers, a long time. Sometimes, the other person is the more qualified at the moment.

But, the great Goose is in and that’s that. Nobody will object. The fans will love it. Heck, he was a nine-time All Star.

He, the quintessential Yankee, whose cap he wore Sunday at Hall time. He, in a tribute to Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, said The Boss should be in the Hall, because “he changed baseball. He upped the ante.’’

Gossage had to look menacing to batters when he came on in relief.  No, he didn’t want to be a reliever, but he embraced the task and was ferocious. Think of the big guy with the handlebar mustache sticking out both sides of his lips, leaning towards you for the fastball (or change up sign), threatening, rolling the ball in his right hand behind him and beginning the windup that would hurtle the ball at you at 100 miles per hour.

He was a bit scary to the batter. He was 6-3 and 220. He looked bigger. And he had a great stare. And he loved every minute of it. 

After bouncing around, the Yankees signed him in November, 1977. He had a 2.01 earned run average, 21 saves and took the Yankees to triumph. He remembers most his playoff win over Boston, he was wonderful. In the single playoff game for it all, he entered the game’s seventh inning with Boston ahead 4-2 after Bucky Dent’s historic homer. And although he allowed two more Boston runs, he held onto a 5-4 win. He got Carl Yastrzemski’s pop up to third baseman, Graig Nettles, with two men on base and two men out.

Frankly, I thought the big man’s threatening manner, and confidence was part of it. He wanted you, you at the plate, to feel that way. But, off the field, he was a softie.  We all knew him that way in Tampa, a second home with the Yankees.  Off the mound, he was a nice, easy-going galoot. He ate out with us, often, at old Malio’s, or Carmine’s, or Bern’s, or the Outback. Talked to everybody. Easy autograph. 

But, Goose, was charged to be a Yankee, as the Yankees were to have him in the years, 1978-83 and 89. It was this irrepressible drive, and want-to, that drove him, that caused him to appreciate the bullpen, the closers, the relievers, of which he surely ranks among the best. Of course, he is a great admirer of the Yankee bullpen star of the moment, Mariano Rivera. One difference here is Gossage often pitched three innings to end a game, not just one, a trend in the game today.  During his career, Gossage pitched in 1,002 games, and finished 681 of them, earning 381 saves. Per every nine innings pitched, Gossage averaged 7.45 hits allowed and had 7.47 strikeouts. He worked in nine All-Star games and three World Series.

“Putting on the pinstripes was special, totally awesome to me,’’ Gossage said, “The first time I pitched at Yankee Stadium I stood there, and I looked around at the vastness in that huge stadium and I said, “Dad, this is for you. That was overwhelming.” 

That’s Goose Gossage.

Glad he’s in the Hall. Aren’t you?

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