PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Lidge didn't think his jersey number, 54, was a big deal when he first came up to the Major Leagues with the Astros. But one day, the reliever was watching a TV highlight reel and saw footage of legendary closer Rich "Goose" Gossage. Gossage, who saved 310 games and won 124 during his 22-year career, was wearing 54. "If you were going to pick a number, what better number to pick?" Lidge said.
This weekend, Lidge -- now among the National League's most dominant closers as a member of the Phillies -- was excited to see Gossage inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Lidge was born in California, but spent most of his life in Englewood, Colo., Gossage's home state. Before this season, the two hurlers had met on a few occasions, but they were mostly "Hi" and "Pleasure to meet you" exchanges. On July 6, Gossage visited Citizens Bank Park to lead a clinic for local Little Leaguers and to raise money for the Phillies' RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. Gossage took time that day to visit the Phillies' clubhouse and speak with Lidge and teammate Tom Gordon. During their conversation, Gossage shared some of his wisdom with the two Phils relievers. "He told me a few things that were pretty good trade secrets for a closer or relief pitcher," Lidge said. "It was awesome for me. Obviously, Flash and I were all ears." Gossage, one of the top relief pitchers of his era, was elected to the Hall in January by the Baseball Writers' Association of America in his ninth year on the ballot. Lidge, who set a club single-season record on Saturday with his 23rd consecutive save, considers Gossage one of the game's best closers of all time. "He's the kind of guy that set the standard early in the closing era," Lidge said. "Eventually, people figured out what he did and that it's Hall of Fame-worthy."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.