New York Goose Gossage became only the fifth relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame, earning baseball's highest honor Tuesday in his ninth try on the ballot.
Known for his overpowering fastball, fiery temperament and bushy mustache, the Goose received 466 of 543 votes (85.8 percent) from 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"It was very emotional I'll tell you, off the charts. I can't describe the feeling," Gossage said after learning the news. "I can't lie. There's been some frustration and some disappointment."
Jim Rice was passed over yet again in his next-to-last year on the ballot, getting 392 votes (72.2 percent), up from 346 (63.5 percent) last year but 16 short of the 75 percent needed.
"Today's results are obviously a disappointment," Rice said in a statement. "I believe my accomplishments speak for themselves, and a majority of the voters seem to agree. It is tough to come this close, but I remain hopeful for the 2009 results."
Mark McGwire, a casualty of the Steroids Era in some writers' minds, received just 128 votes - the exact total he had last year. His percentage increased slightly to 23.6 percent, up from 23.5 percent last year when he was on the ballot for the first time.
"I don't think this steroid thing is over by any means. I'm sure that most of you guys, the writers, don't really know how to approach this," Gossage said during a BBWAA conference call.
Gossage, who fell short by 21 votes last year, joins Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004) and Bruce Sutter (2006) in Cooperstown's bullpen.
Gossage was a nine-time All-Star who pitched for nine major-league teams from 1972-94 and had 310 saves - 52 of them when he got seven outs or more.
The first time he appeared on the Hall ballot in 2000, Gossage received only 33.3 percent of the vote.
Rice will appear on the writers' ballot for the 15th and final time next year, when career steals leader Rickey Henderson will be among the newcomers. The highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.
Andre Dawson was third with 358 votes (65.9 percent), followed by Bert Blyleven at 336 (61.9 percent), Lee Smith at 235 (43.3 percent) and Jack Morris at 233 (42.9 percent).