Karpin’s Korner: The Night That Oz Became the Twilight Zone

Goose Gossage was back in the news.

In a story that appeared on NJ.com this week, the outspoken Hall of Fame reliever commented on his fractured relationship with the Yankees. In a 2018 published report, Gossage took some verbal shots at Mariano Rivera and GM Brian Cashman, after he failed to get an invite to spring training to be a special instructor. Since that time, Gossage has been estranged from the team.

Hearing the Goose was speaking out once again, it reminded me of a night when “The Wizard of Oz” turned into “The Twilight Zone.”

1982 was the second year that I covered the Yankees and Mets for SportsPhone and other various outlets. Up to that point, it was like being in “Oz.”

There I was, a young reporter on the field for batting practice, standing in the dugout, interviewing the ballplayers after games as a member of the media and having the ability to ask questions. (Hopefully, they were intelligent ones) I was lucky to have this job.

Then came the night that the “Yellow Brick Road” became the “sign post up ahead.” It was Monday, August 16th, 1982. I was covering a twi-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium between the Yankees and the Kansas City Royals.

The day before, Gossage had a rough outing in Chicago as he blew a save by giving up four runs in the bottom of the eighth as the Yankees saw a 4-2 lead become a 6-4 loss. The headline on the NY Post the next morning read, “The Goose Was Cooked.”

The Yankees were having a tough season in 1982 and, of course, George Steinbrenner was not happy. The Yankees were double-digits behind the front running Milwaukee Brewers in the AL East and this latest heartbreaker seemed to be the “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The next night, the Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Royals. Gossage saved both games so it figured to be an easy night for the media. By this time, the Yankees were on their third manager of the season, Clyde King, (who replaced Gene Micheal, who replaced Bob Lemon) so the usual protocol after a game is to speak to the manager first and then the players.

After we were done with King, we made our way from the manager’s office to the clubhouse. A group of media members gathered in the middle of the room and that’s when the fireworks began. During the night, Gossage had likely been reminded of the Post headline from the bleacher creatures more than once while he warmed up in the bullpen. After the game, he let loose and the rant began. (Note the expletives were omitted)

It started with a comment about the fans, “Everybody, the way they boo %$@# Griffey (Ken Sr) and everybody else.” (Ken Griffey Sr was in his first year with the Yankees and had a tough time making the adjustment to playing in New York)

Then came the media snipes and the famous quote from that night. “And you #$@^%, all you &$%# with a %$#&* pen and a *&$#% tape recorder, you can %$#%& turn it on and take it upstairs…..to the “fat man.”

Our group was about 30 feet away from where Gossage was. Looking into the clubhouse, the Goose’s locker was the last one on the right side, next to the player’s lounge, but he was moving towards us and had a beer can in his hand. Suffice to say, he was not a happy camper.

If I may quote Gary Thorne, I stood there in “stunned disbelief.”

At this point, Gossage sounded like he was referring to the headline when he yelled, “Everything that you guys, read, (freudian slip) write, these %$#@% read, these dumb $#@%$ in the seats. They read everything you write, and we hear the same $%&# lines, you know what I mean.”

Then came the grand finale. “Negative $#@% ers, no wonder you’re carrying a pad and a %$#%& paper around. You aint worth a $#%$# s…t to do anything else.”

A radio reporter had his tape recorder rolling and that’s why the tirade was on tape. (Names were omitted to protect the innocent)

It became a portent of things to come as Gossage walked away as a free agent after the 1983 season.

It was not Goose’s best moment, but it made quite an impact on a young reporter who got to see something live and in person, that is still being talked about to this day.

Karpin’s Korner appears every Friday on nysportsday.com

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