06/16/2004 6:49 PM ET
Former greats seeing the future
Gossage, Valenzuela chosen to manage Futures Game
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Goose Gossage talks about being named manager for the 2004 Futures Game
|Former hurler Goose Gossage pitched in 1,002 career big league games. (Jeff Reinking/AP)
Its combined resume includes six Hall of Fame elections, three Rookie of the Year awards, two Cy Young Awards, a pair of All-Star Game MVP awards and too many All-Star Game appearances to count.
This year's choices for the New York Mercantile Exchange Futures Game managers do nothing to sully the reputation of past skippers. Goose Gossage and Fernando Valenzuela only will add 15 All-Star Game appearances, a Rookie of the Year award, a Cy Young Award, a Rolaids Relief Award, 297 wins and 312 saves to the record.
Gossage will manage the United States team while Valenzuela will pilot the World squad in the sixth Futures Game, which will showcase the top U.S. and international minor league prospects. The contest, part of All-Star Sunday in Houston, will begin at 3 p.m. CT on July 11. It will be televised on ESPN2.
"I don't have any idea how I was selected to this thing," Gossage joked to MLB.com Radio on Wednesday. "They asked me if I would manage the Futures. I said yes, I'd be glad to. I'm looking forward to it. These kids are some future stars, for sure. It's a real honor for me to be managing them."
Rosters for the game will be announced live on the MLB All-Star Futures Game Selection Show on MLB.com on Monday, June 21, at 12 p.m. ET. The coaching staffs, made up of minor league managers, will be named then as well, and Gossage knows he'll be counting on them for support.
"I'm going to lean really heavily on my coaches," Gossage said about his managing style for the game. "I'm looking forward to seeing these young kids. I love the kids. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the younger players."
Undoubtedly, the younger players will be thrilled to meet Gossage and Valenzuela. Gossage racked up 310 saves over a 22-year Major League career that saw him play for nine teams. He also won 124 games and finished with a 3.01 ERA. He helped the Yankeees win the 1978 World Series and was a vital part of the 1984 Padres World Series team.
All-Star Sunday will also mark the return of Fernandomania. Valenzuela was all the rage when he became the first pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award in the same season. He led the National League in five categories and helped the Dodgers win the World Series that year. Valenzuela won 173 games with a 3.54 ERA over a 17-year career. He tossed a no-hitter in 1990, his final season with the Dodgers.
Valenzuela and Gossage will try to impart some of the wisdom they collected in their combined 39 years of experience.
"There's going to be some wide-eyed young kids in there that won't even believe the experience they're experiencing," Gossage said. "That's what the game is all about. I had so many great experiences the game afforded me."
He, of course, didn't have a Futures Game experience. The game is only in its sixth year. But he recognizes what a great exhibition it is and fully plans on making the most of it.
"Just to have this game as part of the All-Star Game and to have these kids perform in a big league stadium like that, in front of all those great fans, what a thrill it is for them," Gossage said. "Talk about a feather in your cap for being selected for this team and being able to play on that kind of a stage.
"And it's a thrill for me to be able to sit in the dugout, be their manager and watch them play. We're going to have fun. I can guarantee that."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.