Former Tiger outfielders Goose Goslin and Heinie Manush shared eerie connections

Henry “Heinie” Manush won the batting title as a Tiger in 1926, and hit .330 for his career.

Henry Emmett Manush was born nine months after Leon Allen Goslin, and about 800 miles away in rural Alabama. But their baseball careers twisted together several times and they spent fourteen years together in the same league and were briefly teammates. Ultimately, these two former Detroit outfielders were also connected through their quests for the Hall of Fame and even to the very end of their lives.

Both Manush and Goslin went by nicknames, the former by Heinie and the latter called Goose because of the funny way he ran. Goslin dropped out of school to become a baseball player when he was 16 years old, Manush went to military school. Both were left-handed batters, but Manush was a larger man, taller, and thicker chested. Manush played his minor league ball out west, in the hinterlands. Goslin came up through teams in South Carolina and made it to the big leagues two years before Manush. One of the greatest scouts in history, a man named Joe Engel, discovered Goslin, and shepherded him to the Senators. Manush was noticed by Ty Cobb when the Tigers were training in Texas and soon signed with Detroit. He had to fight his way into the lineup, the Tigers had Cobb, Harry Heilmann, and Bobby Veach in the outfield, with Fats Fothergill, Ivey Wingo, and Babe Herman coming along too.

Both Manush and Goslin were left fielders, but neither was considered to be that great with the glove. They made their bones with the bat. Goslin had more power but he played much of his career in a ballpark that hampered his home run totals, Griffith Stadium in D.C. He hit a lot of triples that would have been homers elsewhere. Manush was a line drive hitter and an aggressive baserunner, and as a result he hit a ton of doubles.

In 1928 after Heinie had moved on to the St. Louis Browns, Manush and Goslin staged a battle for the batting title. On the final day of the season, Manush watched from left field as Goslin came to the plate in the ninth inning with a narrow lead in the batting race. If Goslin made an out, Manush would win the batting title. Initially, Goslin considered asking for a pinch-hitter to preserve his slim lead, but his teammates urged him to win it at the plate. After St. Louis pitcher Whitey Wiltse, a tough little lefty, got two strikes on him, Goose altered his strategy and decided to get thrown out of the game. He barked at the home plate umpire, but the man in black wouldn’t bite and told Goslin there was no way he was going to be excused. Somehow, Goslin got his bat on a two-strike pitch and poked the ball into shallow left-center field for a single. Goslin defeated Manush for the crown by a narrow margin.

Leon “Goose” Goslin helped the Detroit Tigers win their first championship in 1935.

After their battle for the batting crown, Manush and Goslin playfully made an annual bet on who would record the higher batting average each season. The loser would have to pay the winner $50 and buy him a new suit. Manush collected on the bet five times, Goslin three times.

Personality-wise, the two men were opposites. Though he was the northerner, Goslin was the country boy, a farm kid, generally good-natured, known for carrying on loudly during card games. Manush was high-strung, competitive, and prone to temper tantrums. Somewhat like Kirk Gibson years later, Manush didn’t like foolishness, he was serious when he got to the ballpark.

In 1930 the Browns traded Manush and pitcher General Crowder to Washington for Goslin. The trade was finalized while Goslin and the Senators were in St. Louis, and when Goose arrived at the visiting locker room he was surprised to be told “get in your own clubhouse.” The trade saddened Goslin, who had a close relationship with team owner Clark Griffith. The deal was made hastily and for rash reasons: Browns’ owner Phil Ball became peeved with Manush when he declined an invitation to have breakfast with him on a road trip. The following day, pitcher Alvin “General” Crowder acted like a jackass when he was removed from a game. Ball witnessed the spectacle, and in a tantrum, called Griffith and offered both of his players in trade. Griffith (reportedly) intended to offer more than Goslin in exchange, but Ball was so anxious to make the deal, he agreed immediately when Goose was mentioned.

Ball might have been delighted to rid himself of the “rude” Manush, but Griffith regretted trading the popular Goose, one of his favorite all-time players. In 1933 he got Goose back from St. Louis, and Manush and Goslin were teammates. That season Manush played left and Goslin moved to right field, flanking Fritz Schulte, who would holler “Out of my way!” to make sure neither of the slower-footed outfielders would make go for the ball in the gap. With both Manush and Goslin in the lineup (they typically hit second and third), the Senators won 99 games in 1933, capturing their last pennant. Manush hit safely in 33 consecutive games and finished second in the batting race, this time to Jimmie Foxx. That was the only season the two men, Heinie and Goose, played on the same team. Goslin was dealt to Detroit in December of that year. The two men competed against each other for three more seasons.

Manush played from 1923 to 1939, Goslin from 1921 to 1938. Manush had just over 2,500 hits, Goose just over 2,700. Goslin hit 500 doubles, Manush hit 491. They each had over 160 triples, but Goslin had more power. Manush hit for a higher average (.330 to .316), but their career OPS+ are nearly identical.

Goslin was repeatedly passed over by Hall of Fame voters, much to the dismay of many of his peers. In 1964 when Manush was elected, Goslin was bitter. But three years later Goose was finally elected by the veterans committee. The strange connection between Goslin and Manush continued to the end: on May 12, 1971, Manush passed away in Florida at the age of 69; three days later Goslin died in New Jersey at the age of 70.