Flashback Friday: Year of the Goose (1971)

The Year of the Goose!

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | March 14, 2014 11:27 AM ET

Rich Gossage had one of the best seasons by a Midwest League pitcher in 1971. His season was so good we can't limit this to just one article in this week's Flashback. The first article is a game story on his 15th win of the season that happened in front of a huge crowd at Goodland Field on August 3, 1971. The second article is a feature on Gossage that appeared in the August 8, 1971 edition of the Appleton Post-Crescent. Both articles were written by Gene Lillge

Gossage Chalks 15th Win
Record Crowd of 8,251 See Foxes Whip Twins, 4-0

A record crowd of 8,251 looked on as Appleton's Rich Gossage picked up his 15th win of the season with an eight-hit shutout over Wisconsin Rapids Wednesday night at Goodland Field, 4-0.

The AAL Night throng surpassed the single game attendance record of 8,054.

Gossage, in his first start against the Twins, walked only one and struck out six as he won his 13th straight decision. The shutout was Gossage's fourth and the 13th hurled by the Foxes' pitching staff.

The 6-3, 180-pound Colorado Springs, Colo. native did not appear to have his best stuff Wednesday night, but it was good enough to allow Gossage to pitch his 12th complete game in 19 starts. In 155 innigs, Gossage has been tagged for 123 hits, 44 runs and 37 earned runs while he has walked 41, hit six batters, uncorked eight wild pitches, and fanned 124. His ERA is an excellent 2.14.

Unwilling Victim

Jeff Hooper had the misfortune of batting Gossage on the mound Wednesday. Hooper gave up four runs, but only one was earned. The slightly built Twins' southpaw walked five, struck out seven, and allowed eight hits.

Appleton plated three unearned runs in the first inning on a two-run single by Larry Linville and an RBI single by Alex Barrett.

Bucky Dent and Sam Ewing reached base on errors before Linville lined a two-out drive into left-center. After Joe Talley walked, Barrett laced a single down the right field line for the third marker.

RBI for Ewing

Appleton got its fourth run in the fourth frame when Jerry Hairston reached second on a walk and wild pitch, and Sam Ewing singled to left.

Talley, Barrett, and Gossage each rapped two hits to pace Appleton's offense.

Wisconsin Rapids got at least one runner on base in all but the final inning but could never cross the plate as Gossage managed to get the key strikeout, pop up, or ground out when needed.

The Foxes close their homestand tonight against Wisconsin Rapids before going on the road for two-game stays at Cedar Rapids and Clinton.

Article #2

Gossage - Foxes' Sensation
Midwest League's Best

"He's going to be a great one."

Appleton Foxes manager Joe Sparks is not one to say anything he doesn't truly believe, so when he tells you something you tend to agree.

The "he" Sparks is talking about is Rich Gossage, ace of the Foxes pitching staff.

Gossage, 20-years-old and only one year out of Wasson High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the hottest pitcher in the Midwest League.

13 Straight Wins

The 6-3, 180-pound right-hander has reeled off 13 consecutive victories since a 4-3 setback to Quincy May 8 to boost his season's log to a nifty 15-1.

Gossage has pitched in 20 games this season, started in 19, and completed 13. Through 155 innings, Gossage has allowed only 44 hits and 123 hits. Of the 44 runs, 37 have been earned. He has walked 44 batters while striking out 124 and owns a 2.14 earned run average.

Bill Kimball signed Gossage to a Chicago White Sox contract after Gossage had starred on the high school baseball team for two years.

Led Team

Gossage spent most of his sophomore year on the junior varsity. IN his junior season, Gossage led his high school league with an 11-2 mark and totaled a record 117 strikeouts.

He was 6-5 for his senior year.

After signing with the White Sox, Gossage was assigned to Sarasota in the Gulf Coast League. He was sent to Appleton and pitched in 10 games and finished the summer with an 0-3 record and a 5.91 earned run average.

"I went to spring training this year," Gossage says in explaining the improvement.

Spring Training

It was during spring training this year that Gossage met former major league pitchers Johnny Sain and Hugh Mulcahy.

"They had me working on my curve ball. I was trying to snap it too much…now it's more like a slider and has been a real good pitch for me," he said.

But this fast ball is still Gossage's bread-and-butter pitch. He throws it 80 or 90 percent of the time and has learned how to make it more effective.

Learned Motion

"I've learned more about my motion. I think I've picked up a little on my fast ball," Gossage comments. "Joe (Sparks) has taught me to use more of my body when throwing," he added.

"He's gotten more on his fast ball since he started throwing his body into the ball, but the main thing we came up with was the change of speeds on his breaking pitch and his fast ball," Sparks explained.

Gossage has been a pitcher ever since he picked up a baseball at age seven. He has played in everything from Little League on up, and is an eager learner.

Exceptional Kid

"He's an exceptional kid," Sparks says of his young star. "He wants to learn. He listens. He picks up every little thing you tell him.

"He has a great attitude, great determination, and a great arm."

Gossage has started to throw side arm a lot more, which has helped his pitching effectiveness, especially against right-handed hitters.

"It's also helped me with my fielding," Gossage says. "Last year I would fall off the mound a lot…I couldn't field anything on the third base side and it was really hurting me," he said.

Looking ahead, Gossage commented on the hitting and pitching in the major leagues where the big difference is consistency.

"You have your better hitters up there, and they are more consistent. They can hit all the pitches.

"The pitchers are a lot more consistent, too. They can put the ball where they want to," Gossage said.

When asked about his plans for the future, Gossage said, "I don't know what to look forward to…I don't know where they'll send me."

The White Sox will probably have him on their roster in Chicago next year.

"I just hope I get a shot at it," Gossage modestly stated. "That's the place to be."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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