Rick Morrissey made my day with his column on Joe Goddard in the Sun-Times.
Even though he was the competition, Goddard, the long-time baseball writer, took pity on me when the Tribune threw me off the deep end, making me the White Sox baseball writer in the ’80s. Only in my mid-20s, I was fairly clueless. Goddard, though, helped shepherd me through the various obstacles. Otherwise, I still might have been lost in Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium when they tore it down. I always will be eternally grateful.
Goddard remains one of the most popular writers ever to work the press boxes in Chicago. Even though he has had some ailments in his older years, he still will be “Young Joe” to all of us.
The Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is Sunday. Many of you are thinking about Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux, this year’s inductees. I can’t help but think of Goddard, 76, who classed up a game and a profession.
He twice finished second in voting for the writers’ wing of the Hall. He’s fine with that, saying he doesn’t think he deserved the award, which is the kind of thing he would say. You’ve probably heard somebody referred to as “a sweetheart of a guy.’’ I deal in opinions, but this is simply fact: Goddard is the sweetest sweetheart of a guy there is. Anybody who has been around him, even ballplayers and managers who don’t always take kindly to us media types, knows it.
Even when Goddard lost, he won.
“One day, [then-Sox manager] Chuck Tanner stuck out his hand,’’ he said. “I went to shake it, and instead he pulled hard on my mustache and brought me down to the ground. He said, ‘That wasn’t a very nice thing you wrote about Rich Gossage in today’s paper. You owe him an apology.’
“So I went to Gossage and said, ‘I’m really sorry about that article.’ Gossage said, ‘I deserved it. I was horse[bleep].’ ’’
It was a different time all the way around.