What’s Good for the Goose

This is always a great weekend to be a baseball fan. Not only are all the teams playing and games are going on at all hours of the day but there is also this little get together in New York that reminds us all of what these players and coaches are doing this for. No I am not talking about the Yankees and Red Sox series (which incidentally is being played in Boston not New York). No I am of course speaking of the events in Cooperstown. Today marks the induction ceremonies of the 2008 class to the Hall of Fame. This year there were several varied appointments to the Hall of Fame. From the most hated man in Brooklyn (who is also the most loved baseball man in Los Angeles) Walter O’Malley to Dave Niehaus as the Ford C. Frick Award winner to Larry Whiteside who was posthumously awarded the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball writing to former commissioner Bowie Kuhn and manager Billy Southworth. The most emotional moment for me was the unveiling of the Buck O’Neill statue on Friday in front of the Hall of Fame entrance. Buck O’Neill was given the first lifetime achievement award that bears his name but the former Negro League player has yet to earn admittance based on his playing credentials which I still think is one of the greatest travesties in the game. For all that Buck O’Neill had done as a player he deserves to have his bust displayed in the player’s wing of the hall like the other immortals of the game. Most of the focus of this weekend though was focused on the two recipients that were voted into the Hall of Fame.

Manager Dick Williams was elected through the veterans committee. He went in wearing an Oakland Athletics cap commemorating his managerial accomplishments leading the A’s to back-to-back World Series championships in 1972-1973. Williams had a long and distinguished career that spanned several years and several teams. He last managed in the major leagues in 1988 so his wait to reach this moment was one that seemed to last a lifetime. Besides the Athletics, Williams also managed the Boston Red Sox (1967-1969), California Angels (1974-1976), Montreal Expos (1977-1981), San Diego Padres (1982-1985), and Seattle Mariners (1986-1988). He will be long remembered as strong-willed managed that seemed to get the most of his players and demanding the very best from everyone on the team.

Rich “Goose” Gossage had been on the Hall of Fame ballot for nine years; nine very long years. While no one expected “Goose” to be a first ballot electee; everyone expected that he would someday be in the Hall of Fame. Gossage was the quintessential relief pitcher at a time when that position was still evolving. He is only the sixth reliever to gain entry into the Hall and hopefully the others that will follow him will not meet with the same level of resistance that he did. “Goose” was one of those players who completely dominated his opponents. I remember watching him come into a game with his team leading. There were very few hitters who got the best of him. And if someone did succeed and get a hit or more rarely a run off him you could bet that Gossage would not forget that and the player would probably find himself picking himself off the ground after being dusted just to let everyone know that no one forgot. His induction speech was peppered with humor and vivid memories of his time as a player. “Goose” was inducted as a New York Yankee after having some of his best years with that club. Several Yankee teammates and front office personnel were in attendance to recognize this accomplishment. It was a classy induction for an even classier guy. Congratulations to all of the inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2008.

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