Monday, March 14, 2011

Goose Gossage Part II

Spring Training, 2008  In my quest to meet baseball players, I would rise at a (relatively) early hour and head out to the practice fields that flanked Legends Field.  Before I got there, I would always stop into a local diner called Mom’s for breakfast. The food is fast and good, and it is on the walk from the Days Inn that I stayed at to the stadium.

I meandered in early one morning with my wife Paige, her brother Guy and my friend Jeff.  We were sitting at a booth, perusing the menu when a very tall man with a handlebar mustache walked in alone and got seated two booths away.  His distinctive mustache is what gave him away- it was unmistakably Goose Gossage.

Since I was on my way over to Legends Field, I had a bag full of Rawlings baseballs and several pens for autographs.  I could have easily interrupted Mr. Gossage’s breakfast for his signature.  But Jeff had a better idea.  He suggested that I buy him breakfast.  After all, he had just been elected into the Hall of Fame.  Brilliant!

I grabbed the waitress and asked her if she could bring me the check for the guy sitting two booths over.  “Goose Gossage?” she asked.  I guess she realized I was a fan.  What was interesting was that nobody else in the diner seemed to notice he was sitting there all alone.  The waitress brought us his check when he finished his meal. 

A few minutes later, Jeff left our table for the men’s room.  Mr. Gossage came over to our table to thank us for buying him breakfast.  Since Jeff’s spot was vacated, we offered him a seat at our table.  Gossage joined us, and we chatted with him about his new found HOF status, and about our experience meeting him at a signing at Shoprite in NY. (For that story, see

He was really awesome to talk to, sharing stories and signing a few baseballs.  It was an unforgettable experience, just hanging out and drinking coffee with a HOF pitcher and all around nice guy.  We thanked him and congratulated him one last time.

Two weeks later, I was back in NY, at a fundraiser that the Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay’s Single A affiliate) put on annually called Pitch for Kids.  I walk in with Paige and Jeff.  Who is sitting on the dais?  Goose Gossage.

He looks at me, points and says, “Where do I know you from?”  Holy crap.  He recognized me! 

“I bought you breakfast at Mom’s in Tampa.”   I explained I was from the Hudson Valley and that I go to Renegades games and events all of the time (they are a fun team to watch!).  We chatted and I introduced him to Jeff, who didn’t make it out of the men’s room in time to meet him at Mom’s. 

What I learned from this experience is invaluable: do something classy and unforgettable, and a player will remember you.  Another thing I realized was that most players are just regular guys that have extraordinary talents.  They just want to be treated like you would treat a friend (that just got elected into the Hall of Fame)!

If you liked this posting, check out my guest blog on with tips on how to get autographs.  The posting can be found here: