July 15, 2008
Cooperstown to Welcome Elk Foundation Volunteer
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.—The eyes of the sports world will be fixed upon a hunter, conservationist and volunteer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation when Goose Gossage is inducted July 27 into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Gossage’s special guests for induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., include Elk Foundation President and CEO David Allen.
“I’ll be there to see our friend get the honor that he deserves,” said Allen. “Besides being a sports hero, Goose has a driving passion for elk hunting and conservation—just like the 10,000 others who volunteer for the Elk Foundation. Last year, Goose helped us start Team Elk, celebrities who support and raise awareness of the Elk Foundation’s mission to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat.”
Charter members of Team Elk also include golf legend Jack Nicklaus, NASCAR star Richard Childress and others.
Here are some Gossage-isms that may, or may not, show up in his induction speech:
On hunting: “You talk about adrenaline? There’s no difference in intensity between looking down at home plate in the late innings of a big game and, after four or five empty days in rugged country, seeing an elk and putting a stalk on.”
On conservation: “We need conservation. The animals need land. That’s where people like the Elk Foundation and others come in. I’ve seen land disappear in (his home state of) Colorado like nobody’s business. Where I hunted, now it’s all houses. But, at the same time, there are also elk and deer where there weren’t before. That’s due to conservation.”
On growing up outdoors: “We grew up in town but we spent every minute we could outdoors. I was hunting darn near before I was old enough to pull the trigger. Small game at first, rabbits, birds, big game later. When I got older, you couldn’t keep me down. I’d run around all over the place looking for pop bottles, then we’d turn those in for the deposit and buy gas so we could go hunting. I remember mom saying that she’d eaten so much deer she was going to start sprouting antlers.”
On young people today: “Kids need to get out. I worry about hunting. Fewer people seem interested. It’s different than when I grew up. My family hunted a lot, but it was a way of life. We never killed what we didn’t eat. I don’t know if parents are exposing kids to hunting enough. It isn’t just killing. We have a tradition as sportsmen, an obligation. We need to be caretakers.”
An extended feature article about Gossage appears in the current issue of “Bugle,” the Elk Foundation’s membership magazine.
Allen said the Elk Foundation will present the Hall-of-Famer with a rifle to commemorate the induction, and that Gossage will appear in an upcoming episode of “Elk Chronicles” on Outdoor Channel.
The nine-time All-Star relief pitcher is only the fifth reliever to be immortalized in Cooperstown. Gossage played 21 seasons for nine different teams, spending his best years with the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres before retiring in 1994. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he became one of the earliest manifestations of the dominating closer. Gossage made trips to the World Series in 1978, 1981 and 1984.