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Goose Gossage became only the fifth relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame, earning baseball's highest honor Tuesday in his ninth try on the ballot.
Known for his overpowering fastball, fiery temperament and bushy mustache, the Goose received 466 of 543 votes (85.8 percent) from 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"It was very emotional I'll tell you, off the charts. I can't describe the feeling," Gossage said after learning the news. "I can't lie. There's been some frustration and some disappointment."
Jim Rice was passed over yet again in his next-to-last year on the ballot, getting 392 votes (72.2 percent), up from 346 (63.5 percent) last year but 16 short of the 75 percent needed.
"Today's results are obviously a disappointment," Rice said in a statement. "I believe my accomplishments speak for themselves, and a majority of the voters seem to agree. It is tough to come this close, but I remain hopeful for the 2009 results."
Mark McGwire, a casualty of the Steroids Era in some writers' minds, received just 128 votes — the exact total he had last year. His percentage increased slightly to 23.6 percent, up from 23.5 percent last year when he was on the ballot for the first time.
"I don't think this steroid thing is over by any means. I'm sure that most of you guys, the writers, don't really know how to approach this," Gossage during a BBWAA conference call.
Gossage, who fell short by 21 votes last year, joins Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004) and Bruce Sutter (2006) in Cooperstown's bullpen.
Gossage was sitting in a recliner in his living room overlooking the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colo., when he received the call. He turned to reporters in the room and said, "Oh my God, I've been elected."
"A shock wave went through my body like an anvil just fell on my head," Gossage said. "I think having to wait makes it that much more special."
His mother died in 2006, Gossage said with tears welling up in his eyes, and he had hoped she would live long enough to see him inducted.
Gossage was a nine-time All-Star who pitched for nine major league teams from 1972-94 and had 310 saves — 52 of them when he got seven outs or more.
The first time he appeared on the Hall ballot in 2000, Gossage received only 33.3 percent of the vote.
Rice will appear on the writers' ballot for the 15th and final time next year, when career steals leader Rickey Henderson will be among the newcomers. The highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.
The last player elected in his final year on the BBWAA ballot was Ralph Kiner in 1975.
"I think Jim Rice does belong in the Hall of Fame," Gossage said. "No hitter scared me, but Jim Rice came the closest."
Andre Dawson was third with 358 votes (65.9 percent), followed by Bert Blyleven at 336 (61.9 percent), Lee Smith at 235 (43.3 percent) and Jack Morris at 233 (42.9 percent).
"We as players that are on the bubble can have opinions, and it does really no good to vent or get angry because it's out of our hands," said Blyleven, whose percentage rose from 47.7 last year. "I know Goose vented a little bit last year, and Jim Rice will probably vent this year. I have four more years. For some reason they make some of these guys like Gossage and Bruce Sutter wait. Like Goose said, he's not going to save any more games."
Tim Raines topped the 11 newcomers on the ballot, receiving 132 votes (24.3 percent). All of the others appearing for the first time fell below the 5 percent necessary to remain on the ballot next year.
Gossage will be inducted July 27 in Cooperstown, joined by five men elected last month by the revamped Veterans Committee: former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, managers Dick Williams and Billy Southworth and ex-Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss.
Williams managed Gossage on the San Diego Padres, helping them win the 1984 NL pennant.
"There isn't anybody I'd rather go in with than Dick Williams," said Gossage, who spoke with his former manager right after getting the news.
This program aired on January 9, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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