Richard "Goose" Gossage was the prototype for the modern closer with his wild mustache, bad attitude and a blistering fastball. While not as popular as other pitchers of his era, Goose Gossage cards still hold a relevant spot in the hobby. Debuting on cardboard with the Chicago White Sox in 1973 Topps, he would find World Series success with the New York Yankees, first appearing in pinstripes in 1978 Topps. With so many choices, we narrow down the list to ten of the best Goose Gossage baseball cards.
Gossage began his career as clean-shaven middle reliever for the White Sox. Later years would see his trademark Fu Manchu mustache provide a distinct identity for one of the most dominating relievers of the 1970s. He finished his career with many Hall of Fame credentials including 310 saves, an amazing 115 wins in relief, and 1,502 strikeouts, good for second all-time among relievers.
As Gossage played with nine different teams, he has many remarkable baseball cards that didn't make the list below. Although only with the Chicago Cubs for one season, Gossage was given a card in the 2016 Topps 100 Years of Wrigley insert while his 1989 Upper Deck card features his impressive mustache and a Cubs batting helmet. In 1983 Topps, the "Super Veteran" was honored on the 10th anniversary of his rookie card in 1973 Topps.
A key member of the Yankees during their resurgence in the late 1970s, he is often included on autograph cards featuring other prominent Bronx Bombers. Before Gossage joined the New York Yankees, Sparky Lyle was their main closer and the two are featured on a dual autograph in 2004 Upper Deck Yankees Classics. Ace pitcher Ron Guidry, reliever Dave Righetti and Gossage form a triple autograph card in 2005 Donruss Signature. In 2013 Topps Triple Threads, Goose is combined with Yankee legends Don Mattingly and Mike Mussina. Gossage and his 2008 Hall of Fame classmate, manager Dick Williams, share a dual signature card in 2015 Panini Cooperstown.
With his essential cards found in sets in the 1970s and 1980s, Gossage is one of the most budget-friendly HOF pitchers and a great place to begin a Hall of Fame rookie card collection. In building the list of the best Goose Gossage cards, early releases were prioritized and card value was a major consideration.
Top 10 Goose Gossage Baseball Cards
Click on the card titles or images to shop for specific cards on eBay. Linked sets in the descriptions go straight to product profiles.
Although Gossage's appearance in 1984 Donruss isn't particularly rare or valuable, it is an important card in understanding the origin of his famous nickname. Tom Bradley, his teammate with the Chicago White Sox, noted that while taking the sign from the catcher, Gossage would lean over and stretch his neck out to see the sign, much like a goose's neck. The similarity with Rich's last name got the moniker to stick. The event was immortalized on his 1984 Donruss card as he appears to stare down the camera looking for the catcher's sign.
Gossage is pictured in just about the most unusual position a player can be in his 1979 Topps card. Gossage's pitching motion gets his 6-foot-3-inch frame moving with such force that his right leg would come sweeping across his body and it looked like he was nearly out of control by the end of each pitch.
Throughout his time as an active player, none of his Topps cards ever featured the nickname "Goose." He was referred to as "Rich Gossage" from his 1973 Topps rookie card to his final Topps appearance in 1994 Topps Stadium Club. However, later sets, including 2002 Topps Finest, would embrace his famous nickname. On the reverse of the Finest Moments Autographs insert, the card highlights Gossage's eight All-Star appearances, which was a record for relievers until it was surpassed by Mariano Rivera.
Gossage signed with the New York Yankees as a free agent after a single season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1977. This means that at the time of his inclusion in 1978 Topps, he hadn't actually pitched for the Yankees yet, making the card a creation of airbrushing. Taking a closer look at the card, you can tell the jersey is not quite right, yet the card is still key to Gossage's baseball card canon as he would have great success in pinstripes.
The Goose Gossage card in 1976 Hostess is sandwiched between Orioles outfielder Ken Singleton and Mets catcher Jerry Grote. The three-card panel was issued during the U.S. bicentennial and, naturally, the company went with a red, white and blue color scheme. Just like the Post Cereal sets, some cards from Hostess are more scarce than others because they were featured on the brand's less popular products.
Shown in an off-center photograph on his 1974 Topps card, Gossage would continue to be used as a middle reliever, only notching one save in 1974 after laying a goose egg in 1973. Finally finding success as a closer during the 1975 season, Gossage would go on to lead the league in saves three times and finished second two more times. A little like Babe Ruth, who would set the strikeout record while also becoming the home run king, Gossage became the career blown saves leader on his way to becoming, at one time, second all-time in completed saves.
1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game included many cover stars from the famous sports magazine. Oddly enough, Gossage was featured on a Sports Illustrated cover in 1984 while he was pitching for the San Diego Padres, yet Fleer featured him as a Yankee instead. The Goose Gossage autograph is very beautiful with the two artistic "G" letters dominating the signature. Personally, I'm a big fan of Fleer's anti-counterfeiting measure of using an embossed stamp over the top of the autograph to show that it was genuine.
The 1975 Topps Mini cards measured 2 1/4" x 3 1/8", making them significantly smaller than the standard size. As an alternative to the 1975 Topps base set, the minis frequently hold more value with collectors. Gossage is featured in his red cap and blue jersey combo which the White Sox wore from 1971 to 1976.
Although missing his famous mustache, Gossage's hair is still the center of attention on his 1972 Puerto Rican Winter League sticker card. While it isn't technically from a minor league card set, Gossage's appearance came the winter before he would debut with the White Sox in April 1972. Along with Gossage, the set is famous for also including an early offering for Mike Schmidt.
Selected by the White Sox in the 1970 draft, he began his MLB career as a reliever in 1972. Twenty-two seasons later, Gossage would retire as one of the most prolific pitchers ever with appearances in over 1,000 major league games. The Goose Gossage rookie card in 1973 Topps is bested only by Mike Schmidt as the most valuable. Mint-graded copies can top $400 at auction.