Rich “Goose” Gossage said he likes Mariano Rivera, but he said he is bothered by the perception that Rivera is the greatest relief pitcher ever in the baseball.
“I take some offense to people saying Mariano is the greatest relief pitcher ever,” he said. “He’s a great pitcher, but he’s not better than any of the guys in the Hall of Fame now. Trevor Hoffman had almost as many saves as him, but where did he play? He played in San Diego.
“I wonder if they could have had the kind of careers we had,” he continued. “We were work horses. I used to come into games in the sixth inning or come into games in the seventh inning when we were one or two runs down, just to keep the game in check. We were used in so many ways.”
Gossage said not long ago someone asked him if he knew an obscure baseball statistic about relievers. “Someone asked me if I knew how many games I saved where I had seven plus outs. I didn’t know. It was 53 saves. Then he asked me how many I thought Mariano and Trevor had. It was one and two saves.
“I always tell people, don’t compare us to them. Compare them to what we did,” he said.
Although he has expressed those feeling before, those quotes were the most eye opening from Gossage, the 2008 HOF inductee, on Saturday as he visiting Cooperstown to speak at the Hall’s Voices of the Game series and greet members who had belonged for 30 years.
Far from controversial, however, Gossage’s comments were spoken more matter-of-fact. He spoke kindly of Rivera and Hoffman, but passionately defended his career and the careers of his fellow relievers in the HOF like Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley.