I think the four relief pitchers so far are the best at what they did. Marino Rivera was just a freak being a quality relief ace his whole career. He is by far the top relief pitcher in history. Dennis Eckersley was the best at combining a quality career as a starter with being a dominant relief pitcher. Hoyt Wilhelm represents the guys who did every role before there were bullpen aces and assigned rules. They pitched as needed and could pitch a lot of innings in one game. Goose Gossage was the best bullpen ace that could lay in his fastball and challenge the batter to hit it.
Gossage still pitched a lot of innings as the role revolved to where it is today with relief aces throwing one inning games. That didn’t happen with Goose. According to his Wikipedia article he had more saves of 2 innings or more than he had of 1 inning or less. I am sure that is not true for any relief ace in the 20 years. Gossage had 53 saves in his career where he got 7 outs or more and pitched over 130 innings of relief 3 times in his career. That was early in his career, but that was when his prime was. In two of those years he led his league in saves. He did that three times in his career. Wikipedia also said Gossage pitched 7 innings in a game his first year as a closer that is hard to believe. He did have 140 innings that year. Wow!
For his career Gossage went over the magic 300 mark with a career 300 saves. He is 26th on the all-time list, but he is definitely higher on innings pitched obtaining saves. He also won 115 games as a reliever which is third all time. He was the third man who pitched in 1,000 games ending up with 1,002. Wilhelm the 3rd best reliever was the first and Kent Tekulve who I have ranked 20th among relievers was the second.
In 1977 Gossage had an ERA of 0.77 for the season. He pitched less that year in the shortened season as I believe the Yankees wanted to rest him in the playoffs. That strategy worked as Gossage pitched 8 games and 14.1 innings and didn’t give up a run in three playoff series. Unfortunately for the Yankees they lost the World Series despite Goose throwing 5 scoreless innings in the Series.
Goose Gossage come from and lives in Colorado Springs where I live. I seen him at local sporting events but never was really close to him. He always had a group of people around him. He has been involved with local youth sports (practically baseball) and has donated money to various leagues. One story when I was younger, I was on the road a lot for my job. I had been gone for awhile so did some shopping. Someone told me about this new store that sold sports memorabilia. I went to the store and found some old sports magazines to buy. I was the only one in the store and there was only a young lady working there. When I checked out, she asked why I wasn’t at the Goose Gossage event. I said I didn’t hear about as I had been out of town. She said she hadn’t expected anyone in the store that day.