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Mamaroneck Man Meets Yankee Hero, Hall of Famer

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Matthew McPeak lined up with the rest of the small crowd assembled Thursday night at Molly Spillane's to get an autograph from Yankee legend and Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage, who had just finished a Q&A session there.

The Jefferson Avenue resident grew up watching the ace relief pitcher, or "fireman", as they used to be called.

"It was awesome," said McPeak, after shaking the star's pitching hand in the second-floor party room, which featured a three-hour open bar and buffet for the event.

Tickets cost $100 for adults and $60 for children, but price was not object to those in attendance, like McPeak. Many came from other towns like Eastchester, Dobbs Ferry and even West Sand Lake, just east of Albany.

Greg Gordon, of West Sand Lake, made the trip back to Westchester just for the occassion. The father of two attended with his friend Richard White, who he met in junior high school while growing up in Mount Vernon.

"I felt like a kid and I'm 50," said White, a Dobbs Ferry resident, after taking a picture with the six-year Yankee superstar. "You don't get this opportunity every day."

Gossage arrived about 30 minutes late for the scheduled 7:30 question and answer session, but no one seemed to mind once he got going.

"That's what I like about him, he went straight to business," McPeak said.

Gossage had a folksy anectode for every question asked of him, which included his toughest batter to face - George Brett -  and favorite Yankee to play with - Thurman Munson. Gossage also had a bit of advice for those kids in attendance.

"Baseball's a great game, but we put too much emphasis on the wins, when we are going to learn a lot more from our losses," said Gossage from behind the handle-bar mustache he has become known for.

Michael Disanto, a 13-year-old from Eastchester, may not have ever watched Gossage play, but was able to appreciate the message of hard work and determination. Disanto is a pitcher, as well as a second baseman for his team in Eastchester, a fact his father Pat was noticably proud about after the two took a picture with Gossage.

Although the Irish pub didn't receive the turnout they hoped for, those fans that did show up were "true Yankee fans," said Colleen Gleeson, of Molly Spillanes, who hopes to hold similar events in the future.

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