Voting precedents are now very encouraging for Gossage, one of the game's pioneering crossover relief sensations. No candidate has come so close to nirvana without eventually joining the baseball gods, usually the ensuing year.
Most recently, Don Sutton (73.15 percent in 1997) and Gaylord Perry (72.07 in 1990) gained next-year admittance from the BBWAA sentry. Other candidates to score such near-misses late in their 15-year ballot lives (such as Orlando Cepeda with 73.63 in 1994 and Jim Bunning with
74.24 in 1988) eventually gained admission through Cooperstown's Veterans Committee.
So Gossage will wait. He will wait patiently, now that the urgency that fueled his past criticism of Hall of Fame voters is gone.
In a pre-announcement chat with Denver-area reporters on Monday, the resident of Colorado Springs discussed how the September death of his 92-year-old mother softened his edge.
"I guess any urgency on my part was always due to her," Gossage was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News. "She always wanted me to go in, and she would've loved to have been there.
2007 Hall of Fame voting results
The complete vote
(545 ballots, 409 needed for election):
Others receiving votes:
|Rich "Goose" Gossage||388||71.2%
Dave Concepcion 74 (13.6%), Alan Trammell 73 (13.4%), Dave Parker 62 (11.4%), Don Mattingly 54 (9.9%), Dale Murphy 50 (9.2%), Harold Baines 29 (5.3%), Orel Hershiser 24 (4.4%), Albert Belle 19 (3.5%), Paul O'Neill 12 (2.2%), Bret Saberhagen 7 (1.3%), Jose Canseco 6 (1.1%), Tony Fernandez 4 (0.7%), Dante Bichette 3 (0.6%), Eric Davis 3 (0.6%), Bobby Bonilla 2 (0.4%), Ken Caminiti 2 (0.4%), Jay Buhner 1 (0.2%), Scott Brosius 0, Wally Joyner 0, Devon White 0, Bobby Witt 0.
Sights and sounds:
Hall of Fame class announced: 350K
Ripken's press conference: 350K
Gwynn's press conference: 350K
Ripken talks to MLB.com: 350K
Gwynn talks to MLB.com: 350K
Ripken/Gwynn Hall of Fame montage: 350K
Photo galleries: Ripken
| Gwynn I
| Gwynn II
"I know she's not going to be there. There isn't any pressure, and I feel much more relaxed about it."
Yet, with a few more votes, there would have been some symmetry about Gossage being inducted alongside the best pure hitter and the ironman of his generation. Because the fierce right-hander humbled great hitters and was himself durable.
Gossage logged his first save in 1972 and No. 310 in 1994. In the 22 intervening seasons -- he was out of the game in 1990 -- he excelled as a workhorse closer for three franchises -- the White Sox, Yankees and Padres.
Gossage also had shorter stints with six other teams later in his career, and this vagabond exit may have weakened his Hall of Fame stature in the eyes of some voters.
However, his platform includes an extra dimension that separates him from the glut of closers who have faced an apparent electorate bias, just as did two relievers elected recently.
Dennis Eckersley (2004) had re-invention going for him, having been a successful starting pitcher before embarking on a second career as a closer. Bruce Sutter (2006) and his split-fingered fastball pioneered the modern role of closers.
Gossage was the last of a breed, a fireman whose hose was ready any time and for any length and for whom saves were an incidental reward, not the sole objective. He mixed his saves with 114 relief wins, a total out of the reach of today's ninth-inning specialists.
Pride in such accomplishments sparked Gossage's fury a year ago, when Sutter gained election with 76.9 percent on 400 votes, while Gossage got 336 for 64.6 percent.
"I just don't get it," Gossage said at the time. "I'm at a loss for words. I don't know if I ever will make it."
He knows better now. He will wait one more year, resting on his qualifications and, this time, on pins and needles.