I vividly remember the Pirates losing Goose Gossage, now a Hall of Famer, to the Yankees for something like $2.5 million dollars.
Free agency was something everyone was nervous about; it was a new thing to baseball. Old farts complained that the family-like continuity of ballclubs was destroyed by the way a dozen or more of the games' best players switched uniforms in the offseason.
The story of free agency in late 1977 will sound familiar thirty years later. The Yankees had just lost Mike Torrez, another 1977 free agent, to the Red Sox. The Red Sox gave Torrez a lot of money. The Yankees were pissed. So they went out and grabbed Gossage and paid him even more money. Torrez was a starter and Gossage was a closer. And the Yankees already had Sparky Lyle, who was also good at finishing games.
The next spring, there was a big picture of Gossage for an article on free agency in one of the annual magazines--it may have been Street & Smith's. I dunno for sure--something like that, however. It had this large picture of Gossage, as a Pirate, throwing hard, shot from a batter's point of view. I was a huge fan of those magazines until the internet arrived with Baseball Reference.
I spent a lot of time looking at that picture throughout the 1978 season. I would get the magazine out and consult the rosters when watching baseball on television. I also read and re-read the preseason predictions as I followed the season by reading at least the standings every day in the newspaper. I can still see that picture of Gossage in my memory.
Don't get me wrong: I was not haunted or all broken up about the loss of the Goose. It's just funny how you remember some things so much more vividly than others.
And yes, I was bummed that the Pirates lost Gossage. And maybe all the free-agency grousing had some role in the Pirates' decision to come together as "family."