Friday, November 7, 2014
Into the Sunset, Pt. 28: Goose Gossage
You can't draw a lot of parallels between 1972 and 1994.
The Godfather and Deliverance were two of the biggest box-office smashes of 1972. By 1994, flicks like Forrest Gump and Dumb and Dumber were big hits. (WE LANDED ON THE MOON!)
1972 saw songs like "American Pie" climb up the charts. Singers (and I use the term loosely) like Celine Dion were popular by the time 1994 came around.
One of the rare constants between those twenty-two revolutionary years is none other than Rich "Goose" Gossage.
The fireballing reliever came up with the White Sox in 1972 as a bright-eyed 20-year-old. Gossage played his last game with the 1994 Mariners, a team that didn't even exist when he made his debut twenty-two years earlier.
While he wasn't the overpowering "Goose" of old, his sunset collection is still worth a look.
For me, Gossage's sunset cards raise more questions than they answer.
As I mentioned, "Goose" closed out his career with the Mariners in 1994. But, for whatever reason, you have to go all the way back to 1992 for his final Topps Flagship card.
Gossage had just come back from a year in Japan and put up fair numbers with the Rangers in 1991. He'd go on to pitch the next two years with the A's before ending up with Seattle in '94.
Yet, in a highly suspicious move, Flagship snubbed him in 1993, 1994, and 1995.
I wondered whether Topps, like a lot of other fans, simply forgot he was even in the big leagues during the '90s.
After all, Gossage shows up in the 1992, 1993...
...and 1994 Stadium Club checklists.
All produced by Topps, of course. Stadium Club, yes. Flagship, no. I don't get it.
Since it's his last card from a major brand, Gossage's '94 Stadium Club issue technically qualifies as a sunset nominee in my book.
However, since it doesn't feature the final stop of his illustrious career, I don't really consider it to be a true finale.
You have to go to 1995 for those.
As usual, Collector's Choice was right on the ball. They even gave Gossage a checklist card to commemorate his 1,000th big league appearance. He'd finish his career with 1,002 in all. (Thirteen other pitchers have since joined the 1,000-game club.)
I never really thought about whether or not I consider checklists to be official sunset cards.
Gossage makes another appearance in the '95 Collector's Choice Special Edition checklist, this time with a more conventional base card.
This blue-bordered set was released in addition to the standard Collector's Choice offering that year.
"Goose" makes an appearance in that set as well.
Without the blue borders, I'd have a hard time telling these two cards apart. Looks like one shot was snapped a split-second after the other.
I like the idea behind two Collector's Choice checklists, but Upper Deck should've at least featured different players in Special Edition.
As much as I love the brand, reusing the same guys doesn't sound all that "special" to me.
As I mentioned a couple days ago, Just Commons completed my Gossage sunset collection with this terrific '95 Score issue.
I know I'm in the vast minority, but I absolutely love 1995 Score. Next to their 1988 debut, I think it's the brand's best design.
Coincidence or not, I see a lot of it in the look of 2015 Topps.
I guess I'm just far from the herd when it comes to 1995 as a whole.
My appreciation for 1995 Fleer has been well-stated over this blog's history. I don't think I have to go over it again. (Or do I?)
All I'll say is that Fleer did a great job in granting Gossage a proper cardboard finale.
It's only fitting that a guy named "Goose" would go out on such a trippy design.
Personally, I think Upper Deck is the king of this sunset collection.
I've gone through the entire spectrum with 1995 UD. From hate to ambivalence to love. (HAL, for short?)
It's a nice, clean, simple design that lets the photography do the talking. Why it took me so long to appreciate it, I'll never know.
Apart from the Collector's Choice checklist, this is the only horizontal of Gossage's sunset collection. And, to make things even sweeter, it features "Goose" in those eye-popping teal Mariners uniforms of the mid '90s.
No way a big league club was going to wear anything like that in 1972.