Goose Gossage Signed on This Date in 1984 by Padres

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(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)


The history of the San Diego Padres was forever changed on this date 23 years ago, as the team signed free agent Rich “Goose” Gossage.

On January 6th 1984, the San Diego Padres won the sweepstakes for the ace reliever. Although the Padres did not offer the most money or service years, the veteran reliever wanted a chance to help guide a developing franchise. He chose the Padres.

Gossage would sign the richest contract in major league baseball history for a pitcher, although the total value of the contract is up for much debate. Even to this date, the total value of the deal is unknown, as the reliever and the Padres agreed to defer a large portion of his salary.

From 1990-2016, Gossage received an annual payment from the team. He was paid $240,000 (speculated) from 1990-2006 and $125,000 (speculated) from 2007-2016. That’s right. Goose was on the payroll this past season for the Friars. A little known, surprising fact. The reality is the total worth of his contract is not known, but the total value of his five-year (plus sixth year option picked up by the Cubs in 1989) deal was anywhere from $11-13.5 million.

He was paid roughly $6.5 million (with performance bonuses) for his salary from 1984-1989. Gossage was also granted that deferred payment that paid him around $5 million from 1990-2016. There were even reports that the Padres gave Gossage a loan at one point in their relationship. It was an unusually structured deal that gave Gossage financial security into his golden years. Perhaps it was the Padres’ willingness to agree to contracts like this (Garry Templeton and Steve Garvey) that made the team appealing to ball players and their agents in this era.

He came into town with a swagger about him and he was one of the final pieces to a Championship run for the team in 1984.

Goose Gossage went 10-6 for the Friars in 1984 in 62 games and 102 innings pitched. He recorded a 2.90 ERA and a 1.085 WHIP, while saving 23 games for the National League Champions. He locked down the late innings for the Friars and provided the team with another leader in the clubhouse. Here is some video of Goose recording the last out of the 1984 N.L.C.S. against the Cubs, one of the best moments in the history of the San Diego Padres.

Overall, Gossage played four seasons in San Diego, going 25-20 with a 2.99 ERA in 197 games. He saved 83 ball games and was always the center of controversy. He had no qualms about speaking his mind, and in 1986 he was suspended by the team. After alcohol, and more specifically, beer was banned from the clubhouse, Gossage went on to criticize the team’s president, Ballard Smith, and owner Joan Kroc.

He called Smith “gutless and spineless” and specifically called out Joan Kroc for “poisoning the world with her hamburgers.” The team suspended him immediately and the situation lasted weeks. He was only allowed to return to the team after apologies to Smith, Kroc, and more importantly, to the McDonald’s corporation. Gossage missed a total of 20 games in late August and early September. It was a messy time in Padres’ history, as Gossage pulled no punches as a professional. The intensity he brought on the mound was equaled in the locker room and sometimes he rubbed teammates the wrong way. That is perfectly fine. For a young franchise, the teams needed that intensity, and he helped bring the Padres to baseball relevancy.

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