Michael Owen-Baker/Daily News Staff Photographer
For an upcoming documentary on the Pasadena-based Baseball Reliquary, Northridge filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis realized that in the hundreds of hours of footage he’s already shot, there was an extended interview he did with Greg Goossen at his apartment last October.
Leonoudakis revisited it this week, edited it down, and produced DVD copies for the Goossen family to have.
There was Greg Goossen alive on the screen again, with all the photos on the wall behind him, talking about his life, appreciating the time he had in the spotlight, wearing the giant gold ring that champion middleweight Michael Nunn once gave him as thanks for his help as a trainer.
And there’s lot of laughing. Loud and raspy.
At one point, Goossen is talking about the career of the star-crossed Bill Buckner, and he comes up with the line: “Someone once said, I don’t care how they remember me, as long as they remember me.”
No worries there, Goose. You won’t be forgotten.
From today’s column (linked here), we have these additional comments:
From Jim Bouton, who last saw Goossen at a “Ball Four” celebration last September in Burbank, put together by the Baseball Reliquary:
“We did see each other just before that at a reunion in Seattle for the Pilots, and we all went out to a Mariners’ game. But afterward, he got lost under the stands when were leaving the park. ‘Where the hell is Greg?’ ‘I saw him go that way…’ I took off to find him because I figured he could easily get disorientated. I think I found him 50 yards going the other way, looking bewildered over which way to go. ‘Greg, over here!’ And he grabbed my arm and said, ‘Daddy! Thanks for finding me … I got you Daddy.’ And we swam against the current of fans coming out. …
“I could just see him as a student in high school, never taking himself too seriously. Maybe not a great student, but a very smart guy who was aware of what was going on around him. Wise to everything enough so that teachers would pass him through. Sort of the class clown, but not having an enemy in the world.”
From Pete Rose, whom Goossen stepped in to accept his induction last July in the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals:
“Such a gem of a guy. Just quit smoking. Just got his knees operated on. His weight was good. Great stories at lunch, Mondays and Wednesdays, same seats, making everyone laugh. You know, he never ordered food, but when he’d get up, he’d always be full. And the only reason he’d leave was to take care of his dogs at home. We could always laugh about that. And his 2002 red Mercedes, that only had 18,000 miles on it. He had that flattop haircut. … and always had a comeback when I’d make fun of it.”
Goossen had said that if Rose ever got back into managing in the big-leagues, he might be one of his coaches. Rose’s response: “I’d put him on my staff anytime. I’m not sure if he could handled it as a bullpen coach with guys throwing 95. His fingers would be so banged up he couldn’t get a quarter off a bar, but I know he’d put the mask on and try it. He would have been a great bench coach fo rme. He knew the game, understood it, was always a couple of innings ahead, knew what the hell was going on.”
On the times they played against each other in the big leagues: “Neither of us were very talkative back then (in the mid-’60s). We were young players who just kept our mouths shut even with our personalities. We didn’t want to wear out our welcome. I really didn’t try to get involved with catchers, either. I didn’t necessarily like pitchers or catchers. I kinda wish I knew him better when we were players instead of just the last four or five years. If I were playing against Greg now we’d have so much fun when I would come to bat. That would be a fun at bat. I think I’d still get a base hit, but then get thrown out at second trying to steal.”
== From Terry Cannon, the director of the Baseball Reliquary:
“It was really a treat for me to get to meet Greg over the last six months or so. I think he genuinely understood and appreciated the Baseball Reliquary, and felt quite omfortable around the organization and its members. I think there’s a very good likelihood that he will appear at some point on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot.
“Looking back over Greg’s appearances at Reliquary events last year, I think my favorite story relates to his presentation at the Shrine of the Eternals Induction Day last July, when he accepted Pete Rose’s induction on his behalf. Greg was sitting by Sister Mary Assumpta of Cleveland, who was receiving the Hilda Award, and he was dressed in black from head to toe. Several people came up to me who didn’t know Greg, and they asked if he was a priest who had accompanied her on her trip to Pasadena. The story gets even better.
“Sister Mary was sitting next to Chris Chesser, a Hollywood guy who had co-produced the film ‘Major League,’ which featured a cameo appearance by Sister Mary. Chris was there that day to introduce Sister Mary prior to her receiving the Hilda Award. Very few in the audience knew that Greg had tried out for a role in ‘Major League.’ When I introduced Greg and he began to walk to the podium to accept Rose’s induction, Greg walked right by Chesser and mumbled under his breath, but loud enough to be heard by those sitting in the first few rows, “. . . and fuck you for not hiring me for that picture!” I guess if there was anyone in the first few rows still wondering if Greg was a priest, that gave them their answer!
“Greg was just the real genuine article, and I’m sure glad the Reliquary had this interaction, albeit brief, with him. And I’m also really glad that Jon Leonoudakis was able to capture his wonderful appearance at ‘Ball Four Turns Forty’ and also the interview he did with Greg for the Reliquary documentary. These are wonderful glimpses into Greg’s life and personality.”
“One more thing about Greg: After the Shrine ceremony, Greg came up to me on his way home and I handed him the induction plaque for Pete Rose. Greg said, ‘Hey, this is gonna look great on my mantle.’ And I replied to Greg by saying that I hope he kept the plaque, because I think it was probably more meaningful to him than it would be to Pete Rose. I suspect he gave it to Pete, although I never asked him.
“Greg was one of only three players that I recall who was so impressed with the Reliquary that he said to me a couple of times, if there was anything he could do for the Reliquary to just ask. The only other players who ever said that to me were Dock Ellis and Dick Allen. Of course, I wouldn’t ask for any favors, but just the fact that they offered showed me that they were Reliquarians at heart and really appreciated our modest efforts to honor the legacy of the game.”