Johnny Gooch

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Johnny Gooch
Johnny Gooch.jpg
Catcher
Born: (1897-11-09)November 9, 1897
Smyrna, Tennessee
Died: May 15, 1975(1975-05-15) (aged 77)
Nashville, Tennessee
Batted: Switch Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 9, 1921, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
September 12, 1933, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average .280
Home runs 7
Runs batted in 293
Teams
Career highlights and awards

John Beverley Gooch (November 9, 1897 – March 15, 1975) was an American professional baseball player, coach, minor league manager and scout.[1] He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher from 1921 to 1933, most notably for the Pittsburgh Pirates.[1]

Baseball career[edit]

Born in Smyrna, Tennessee, Gooch began his professional baseball career in 1916 at the age of 18 with the Talladega Tigers of the Georgia–Alabama League.[2][3] He didn't play professionally in 1917 or 1918 as he returned to help on the family farm after his oldest brother had died in a drowning accident and his second oldest brother had been called into military service during World War I.[2] Gooch was also called into military service and was aboard a train heading to the service when news of the Armistice broke.[2]

In 1918, Gooch tried out to play for the New Orleans Pelicans but didn't make the team.[2] Despite this setback, the eager Gooch continued to show up for the team's practices.[2] His eagerness to play finally convinced the Pelicans to sign him to a contract.[2] He was sent to play in Cleveland and then to Mobile, where he was released.[2] The Birmingham Barons then signed him after The Barons’ manager, Carlton Molesworth, remembered his dedication during one of his team's visits to play in Mobile.[2] It was in Birmingham where Gooch first played with future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Pie Traynor, and the two men developed a lifelong friendship.[2] In 1920, he posted a .288 batting average in 136 games for the Barons.[3]

Gooch made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 9, 1921 at the age of 22.[1] Gooch had his best season offensively in 1922 when veteran catcher Walter Schmidt, held out for more pay and didn't play until August.[2] He posted a career-high .329 batting average in 105 games, and collected an extra-inning six-hit game, two four-hit games, and eight three-hit games.[1] He also had 102 assists defensively, third best in the league.[4] In 1925, he played as a backup catcher to Earl Smith while posting a .298 batting average along with 30 runs batted in to help the Pirates win the National League pennant.[1] The Pirates then went on to defeat the Washington Senators in the 1925 World Series.[5] He appeared in three games of series and went hitless in 3 at bats.[6]

Gooch played in 101 games in 1927 and had a career-high 48 runs batted in, as the Pirates once again won the National League championship.[1] However, they faced the powerful New York Yankees led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1927 World Series and were defeated in four straight games.[7] In 1928, the Pirates acquired future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Burleigh Grimes, who was the last pitcher allowed to throw the spitball in the major leagues.[8] Pirates manager, Donie Bush chose Gooch to be Grimes' personal catcher, due to his previous experience at catching the tricky spitball.[8]

After spending six and a half years with the Pirates, Gooch was traded in June 1928 along with Joe Harris to the Brooklyn Robins in exchange for Charlie Hargreaves, as the Pirates were seeking a right-handed batter.[9] It was also reported that he had fallen out of favor with the Pirates because of a salary dispute during the off-season.[9] News reports surfaced in January 1929 that Gooch wasn't happy in Brooklyn after having spent so many years in Pittsburgh, and was contemplating retirement.[10] That April, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Val Picinich.[1] He experienced a rejuvenation by hitting for a .300 batting average in 92 games for the seventh-place Reds.[1] After one more season with the Reds where his batting average dropped to .243, he was traded to the Nashville Volunteers in the Southern Association for Joe Cicero.[1] He posted a .334 batting average in 117 games during the Volunteers' 1932 season.[1] In January 1933, he returned to the major leagues when his contract was bought by the Boston Red Sox.[11] Gooch's playing time was diminished when the Red Sox acquired catcher Rick Ferrell in May.[2] He appeared in 37 games for the Red Sox and played in his final major league game on September 12, 1933 at the age of 37.[1]

Career statistics[edit]

In an eleven-year major league career, Gooch played in 805 games, accumulating 662 hits in 2,363 at-bats for a .280 career batting average along with 7 home runs, 293 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .342.[1] He had a career fielding percentage of .973.[1]

Managerial and coaching career[edit]

Gooch was hired by the Cincinnati Reds to be a player-manager for the Durham Bulls of the Piedmont League in December 1935.[12] He was credited with helping young pitcher Johnny Vander Meer cure the wildness of his pitching.[13] Vander Meer went on to become the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history to pitch two consecutive no hitters.[13] Gooch was then hired as the manager for the Mount Airy Reds of the Bi-State League.[14] In January 1937, the Pirates hired Gooch to be their pitching coach, at the urging of his old friend, Pie Traynor, who was then managing the Pirates.[15] In October 1939, the Pirates released him as a coach, then immediately rehired him as a scout.[16] The Pirates then named him to be the manager for their minor league affiliate, the Hutchinson Pirates of the Western Association for the 1941 season.[17] His final year in baseball was 1942, as a player-manager for the Bluefield Blue-Grays in the Mountain State League.[2]

Later life[edit]

After retiring from baseball management, Gooch opened a baseball bat factory in Nashville.[2] In 1972, Gooch was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.[18]

Gooch died on May 15, 1975 in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 77.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Johnny Gooch statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Johnny Gooch at the SABR Bio Project, by Bill Nowlin, retrieved 6 June 2012
  3. ^ a b "Johnny Gooch minor league statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "1922 National League Fielding Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "1925 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Johnny Gooch post-season statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "1927 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Johnny Will Be Special Catcher". The Pittsburgh Press. 9 April 1928. p. 30. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Pirate Hurlers Fail To Display Convincing Form". The Pittsburgh Press. 9 June 1928. p. 30. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Gooch Tired Of The Game". The Pittsburgh Press. 28 January 1929. p. 36. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "Boston Red Sox Buy Catcher Johnny Gooch". The Reading Eagle. 1 January 1933. p. 23. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Gooch And Whitted Lead Farm Teams". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. 31 December 1935. p. 7. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Vander Meer Pitches Second No Run, No Hit Game In row". The Bulletin. United Press International. 16 June 1938. p. 7. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Johnny Gooch Is Hired To Manage Local Team". The Mount Airy News. 5 November 1936. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Gooch Signs With Pirates". The Pittsburgh Press. 12 January 1937. p. 24. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  16. ^ "Bucs Release Gooch, Rehire Him As Scout". The Pittsburgh Press. 17 October 1939. p. 8. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Gooch To Manage Pirate Farm Club". The Pittsburgh Press. 13 December 1940. p. 49. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "John Gooch at the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame". tnshf.net. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 

External links[edit]