- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Goose Gossage became only the fifth relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame, earning baseball’s highest honor yesterday 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. “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 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 to 1994 and had 310 saves — 52 of them when he got seven outs or more.

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.

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