MLB Free Agency History: Goose Gossage signed with Padres this day in 1984

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

On this day 30 years ago, Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage signed with the Padres, paving the road to that year's National League championship. While Gossage's four-year deal was the most lucrative contract inked by a pitcher to that point, Goose famously rejected numerous higher offers just to have the chance to, as Heath Bell would say many years later, "put San Diego on the map".

Gossage's presence in 1984 did indeed help push the Padres into the national spotlight. Goose saved 25 games and got the win in ten others while posting a 2.90 ERA in a whopping 102.1 innings. He was also integral in the strange camaraderie between that season's band of misfits, performing comedy routines with his straight man Steve Garvey. The two even landed on the cover of Inside Sports magazine billed as "Mr. Clean and Mr. Mean". Gossage also got the Friars on the front of Sports Illustrated, posing with then-current and former teammate Graig Nettles who came over in a trade with the Yankees right before Opening Day.

As you know, Goose and the gang fell to the Tigers in that year's World Series, with Gossage giving up a pair of homers in his two appearances, including Kirk Gibson's first World Series home run off a top-flight closer. While Gossage lost that battle, it still spoke volumes about his confidence and way he went about his business. In a famous scene, Padres manager Dick Williams called for Gibson to be intentionally walked but Goose disagreed, likely citing his and Gibson's history. To that point, Gibson had mustered only a single in nine at-bats against Gossage, striking out seven of the other eight times. To the amazement of Sparky Anderson and nearly everyone else in attendance, Williams let Gossage face Gibson. It didn't work out, but that'll happen from time to time.

Goose stuck around for three more seasons with the Padres after that, never returning to the postseason. He did find himself in hot water in 1986 when he was suspended for making denigrating-yet-true remarks about team president Ballard Smith's asinine policies, which included a refusal to sign any player to a multi-year deal. In the same rant, Gossage said that Joan Kroc was "poisoning the world with her cheeseburgers" while players weren't allowed to have a beer in the clubhouse. He made the same about-face that Cameron Maybin would make about Panda Express a quarter-century later, and stated upon his return that he and his family "have been and will continue to be regular customers of McDonald's".

After leaving San Diego in a trade with the Cubs before the 1988 season, Gossage pitched for them, the Giants, Rangers, A's, and Mariners, finally hanging up his spikes after the 1994 season. He had to wait until 2008 to make his rightful entry to the Hall of Fame. Appropriately, he was inducted with Dick Williams. Kirk Gibson was not inducted that day and never will be, so there's one for the last-laugh file.

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