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Goose Goslin, power-hitting leftfielder for the Washington Senators, World Series icon, and overlooked master of the basepaths.

Early Years

Leon Allen Goslin was born October 16, 1900 in Salem, New Jersey. He excelled in school, but spent hours afterwards playing baseball on the sandlot. When he was 16 he left to play on a touring semipro circuit of the Eastern seaboard, and by 19 had moved into the minors in South Carolina, where he was a pitcher.

One day, Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith came to scout the team. As the other team came up to bat, Goslin, who had pitched the day before, took his place in leftfield. The very first pitch came his way - and bonked Goslin on the head as he tried to catch it. It was mortifying for the 19 year old, who thought it might be his last chance at the big leagues. When Goslin came up to bat in 2nd inning, he bared down and hit a solo home run. He hit two more homers that day, and Griffith signed him to the Senators' farm system that day. Two years later, Goslin made his debut in the pros, batting .260 in 50 at bats.

Highlights

Goslin's catching boner proved to be representative of his entire major league defensive career: error-prone. Goose's nickname derived from the way he flapped his arms when he was running to settle under a fly ball. He was blessed with a strong arm, but in his first spring training, someone suggested he learn to shot put to improve his strength; instead, it ruined his arm for good. With a weak arm, Goslin never contended for any fielding awards. But boy, could he hit.

From 1922 to 1928, Goslin batted .300 or better in every season. Three times he was voted to a top 10 finish in the MVP race. He also led the league in triples twice, and RBIs once. In 1928, his best year in the majors, he batted .379 to win the title. On the last day of the season, while holding slightly to his lead, he and the Nats faced the St. Louis Browns and their dangerous hitter Heinie Manush - who was only 1 thousandth of a point behind Goslin for the title. Goslin refused to hit to protect his lead, until his teammates all but forced him into the batter's box. Goslin got an infield hit and secured his crown.

Goslin also proved he was a great clutch hitter. Although the Senators were a rather middling team throughout their entire existence, Goslin led them to all 3 of their World Series appearances. In the 1924 Fall Classic he hit 3 home runs to lead the team to their only victory; in 1925, he repeated his trifecta, but the team lost in 7 games to Pittsburgh.

In 1930, after two injury-riddled and subpar seasons, Goslin was sent to the St. Louis Browns, where he again consistently batted .300 or more. His success brought him back to the Senators (in a trade for his career rival Manush), where he led the the team to their final World Series (they were swept in 4 games). During the off-seaon he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. He took the Tigers to the World Series in both 1934 and 1935, where in a World Series classic moment, he hit a Game 6, bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out, series-clinching single for Detroit.

In 1936, at the age of 36, Goslin batted an amazing .315, and was voted to start in the first-ever All-Star Game, where he went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles and a single. Following a shaky 1937 season, Goslin returned to his Washington Senators for a 3rd time as a player-coach, and retired from baseball midway through the 1938 season, with a .316 average and 248 career home runs, an impressive feat in spacious Griffith Stadium.

After Baseball

Goslin returned to his home in New Jersey and opened a boat rental on the coast, where he spent the rest of his life. Despite his impressive statistics (and as a lefty in Griffith) Goslin was never seriously considered for the Hall of Fame by the sportswriters. He was elected by the Veterans Committee to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968. Goose Goslin passed away May 15, 1971 in Bridgeton, New Jersey. Three days earlier, his friendly nemesis Manush had passed away.

Career Statistics

 YEAR   TEAM   G   AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO    BA
 1921 WSH AL  14   50    8   13   1   1   1    6   0  0   6   5  .260
 1922 WSH AL 101  358   44  116  19   7   3   53   4  4  25  26  .324
 1923 WSH AL 150  600   86  180  29  18   9   99   7  2  40  53  .300
 1924 WSH AL 154  579  100  199  30  17  12  129  15 14  68  29  .344
 1925 WSH AL 150  601  116  201  34  20  18  113  27  8  53  50  .334
 1926 WSH AL 147  568  105  201  26  15  17  108   8  8  63  38  .354
 1927 WSH AL 148  581   96  194  37  15  13  120  21  6  50  28  .334
 1928 WSH AL 135  456   80  173  36  10  17  102  16  3  48  19  .379
 1929 WSH AL 145  553   82  159  28   7  18   91  10  3  66  33  .288
 1930 WSH AL  47  188   34   51  11   5   7   38   3  2  19  19  .271
      SLB AL 101  396   81  129  25   7  30  100  14  9  48  35  .326
      TOT AL 148  584  115  180  36  12  37  138  17 11  67  54  .308
 1931 SLB AL 151  591  114  194  42  10  24  105   9  6  80  41  .328
 1932 SLB AL 150  572   88  171  28   9  17  104  12  9  92  35  .299
 1933 WSH AL 132  549   97  163  35  10  10   64   5  2  42  32  .297
 1934 DET AL 151  614  106  187  38   7  13  100   5  4  65  38  .305
 1935 DET AL 147  590   88  172  34   6   9  109   5  4  56  31  .292
 1936 DET AL 147  572  122  180  33   8  24  125  14  4  85  50  .315
 1937 DET AL  79  181   30   43  11   1   4   35   0  1  35  18  .238
 1938 WSH AL  38   57    6    9   3   0   2    8   0  0   8   5  .158
 CAREER     2287 8656 1483 2735 500 173 248 1609 175 89 949 585  .316
* Bold denotes led league.

Sources

  • http://www.baseball-reference.com/g/gosligo01.shtml
  • http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/G/Goslin_Goose.stm

Hall of Fame Index
Lefty Gomez | Hank Greenberg

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