The 1969 Seattle Pilots were baseball’s impractical joke, the quickest one-and-done team in modern history.
One year, the city has the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate. The next, a big-league team. And then, it skips town after filing for bankruptcy, when a used-car salesman from Milwaukee named Bud Selig buys ‘em up.
The local connection: Greg Goossen, from the famed Goossen boxing family of the San Fernando Valley. The former Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks multi-sport athlete, a draft pick of the Dodgers in 1964, ended up on that ’69 Pilots roster (No. 34, fifth in from the left in the second row in the photo above). For better or worse, after a call-up from Triple-A Vancouver on July 25 — 40 years ago Saturday — Goossen was part of this crazy flock.
He went 3-for-4 with a homer in his debut. And the Pilots lost. In part, because manager Joe Schultz asked him to bunt in the bottom of the ninth and he popped it up into a double play.
“The first pitch was right between my eyes, and I got out of the way,” said Goossen. “Why did they want me to bunt again? I didn’t even know the bunt sign. They had to come and tell me. I honestly don’t even think I’d bunted before that. I hit a home run earlier in the game. Why?”
So what’s happened to Goossen since then? He’s lived several lifetimes. We caught up with him near his Sherman Oaks apartment to relive that time before the Pilots’ light was turned off.
For a little background on the famed Goossen family tree:
== Born on Dec. 14, 1945, Greg is the fourth oldest of 10 children born to Elliott “Al” (a former LAPD homicide detective) and Ann Goossen, and grew up living across the street from Notre Dame High’s baseball field in Sherman Oaks. All the children either went to Notre Dame High, Grant High or Van Nuys High.
You may have heard of some:
== Dan and Joe Goossen: Of Greg’s seven brothers, these two became most famous for training world-class boxers after opening Ten Goose Boxing — the name, a reflection of the 10 Goossen siblings. The gym, once in Sherman Oaks but is now in Van Nuys, was home to top fighters that included Michael Nunn, Terry Norris and WBC super featherweight champ Gabriel Ruelas (and his brother, Rafael). Dan, (pictured at right), is now president of Goossen Tudor Promotions and in the California World Boxing Hall of Fame. In fact, Greg, who has worked in the Goossen boxing gym as a trainer and self-defense instructor, wears a championship ring given to him by the Ruelas’ brothers
== Nick Goossen: The son of Greg’s brother, Joe (both are pictured at left), has produced Hollywood films in coordination with Adam Sandler.
== P.J. Goossen: The son of Greg’s oldest brother, Pat, was a former middleweight contender in the 1990s who had a 19-3 record that included losses to Hector Macho Camacho and Roberto Duran.
== Josh Goossen-Brown: The co-Mission League MVP last season at Notre Dame High is another one of Greg’s nephew — the son of his sister Sandra Goossen and brother-in-law Tom Brown, who also trains boxers. As a senior who guided his team to the Div. II title over Sunny Hills at Dodger Stadium by throwing six innings out of the bullpen, Goossen-Brown also hit .330 with two homers and 17 RBI in 29 games. He finished with a 10-3 record on the mound with 2.80 ERA and was first-team Daily News All-Area Baseball.
== Cody Howard: One of Greg’s four grandkids, he hit .338 with three homers and 22 RBI in 25 games and was also 2-1 on the mound with two saves last season as a freshman at West Ranch High in Santa Clarita. His mother is Greg’s middle daughter, Kim. Greg’s youngest daughter, Tracy, is also kind of fond of her daughter, Reese. So is grandpa Greg.