COLORADO SPRINGS — Over his 22-year Major League Baseball career, Colorado Spring native Rich "Goose" Gossage was fearless on the mound, the nine-time all-star bringing the heat to big league opponents.
"Still have to pinch myself that I had that kind of career," Gossage said. "People ask me, Goose who'd you play for, it would be easier to tell you who I didn't play for. All I wanted to do was put a big-league uniform on one time, and that one time turned into 22 years."
It was the heat, and more specifically the sun, that left the Hall of Famer a bit rattled when he scheduled an appointment at the Skin Cancer & Dermatology Center in Colorado Springs last month.
"I've got skin damage today from being in the sun, basically every day of my whole career and even before professional baseball," Gossage said. "I'm paying the fiddler."
Following a biopsy, it turned out that the two growths on his right arm were cancerous: A Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Not as serious as Melanoma, the most dangerous kind but left untreated they could've been.
Under the treatment of Dr. Brett Matheson, Gossage had a simple procedure to remove both and has made a full recovery from the scare.
"Almost all Skin Cancer if caught early is very treatable, that's the key, come in early and catch it early," Matheson said.
Colorado has the highest per-capita rate of Skin Cancer in the United States. The now 69-year old baseball veteran hopes his story will convince others to take all precautions necessary against the toughest of oppositions.
"The check-ups are what it's all about and Dr. Matheson nipped it in the bud," Gossage said.
"It's really important to wear sunscreen, that's so key here especially in Colorado where we're at a higher elevation," Matheson said. "Hats and sunglasses are important and limit your hours in the prime sunny hours of the day."
In total, the Wasson High School alumnus struck out 1,502 Major League hitters during his time on the mound.
"It has been a great run," Gossage said.
Luckily, he saved his best for last.
"You can lose your life over this, it can be life-threatening and it's very important to see Dr. Matheson and take care of it just on the precautionary side," Gossage said.