Bronx, NY- One day after Tino Martinez was added to the pantheon of heroes in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, he was joined by relief pitcher extraordinaire Goose Gossage.
Gossage’s plaque to be placed in Monument Park was unveiled during a ceremony held directly following the introductions of the former Yankees on Old Timers’ Day.
Although Gossage was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 85.8 % of the vote in 2008, Gossage was extremely touched by the honor he received on Sunday, “It’s totally overwhelming for me to be out here. I grew up in Colorado. My family was huge Yankee fans. I played on nine teams and putting on the pinstripes was close to having an out-of-body experience.”
Gossage spoke in greater detail and with more emotion during a post-ceremony press conference.
He described his emotions after signing with the Chicago White Sox, “I cried all day the day I signed my first contract with the Chicago White Sox. I promised myself I would give it everything I had. All I wanted to do was put on a big league uniform for one day and it turned into 22 years.”
Another memorable and emotional moment for the great closer was his first visit to Yankee Stadium, “When I walked into Yankee Stadium for the first time I was with the Chicago White Sox. I got chills. I was like a little kid. I was the only rookie. It was a veteran team. I was shaking and trembling when I got into the game.”
Gossage related the first Old Timers’ Day he experienced in his first year as a Yankee in 1978, “My favorite day every year was Old Timers’ Day. I always thought it was a great connection from generation to generation.” He remembered sharing his locker with pitcher Ralph Terry. He also talked of his first meeting with hius childhood idol, “Mickey Mantle was my favorite player growing up. I met him at the All-Star Game in 1975 and I couldn’t even talk.”
Gossage explained the emotional vicissitudes of dealing with the fans in his first year with the Yankees, 1978, “I ran the gauntlet of ups and downs, highs and lows, mountains and valleys.” The year began on the road and he blew three saves. During the Opening Day ceremony at home, he was booed vociferously, which disturbed him greatly. He credits his teammates, especially Catfish Hunter for showing him acceptance. He told himself, “I’m going to change those boos to cheers. Two months later it happened.”
His description of that team was one of “so many strong personalities. There was never a dull moment.” Yet despite the turmoil, he calls the team “the greatest I ever played for I would put that team against any team.”
After the press conference concluded, Gossage shook hands with every reporter who approached and graciously thanked them for their offers of congratulations.