My Doyle Goodale autographed baseball has taken on new meaning

November 13, 2018

It’s pretty incredible what 36 years does to horsehide. To be more specific, a Wilson horsehide cover.

That horsehide cover is wrapped around a cushioned cork center as it states on the baseball and when the individual presented it to me, it apparently came straight out of the box that Wilson Sporting Goods packaged it in because it was as white as brand-new bases.

Thirty-six years ago, I was just a sportswriting pup, less than 24 months into my career and still trying to learn the ropes when this baseball manager presented me with a baseball wrapped in its horsehide cover.

It was the summer of 1982 and I had no clue as to who this baseball manager was when I first began reporting on his team. In 1982, this baseball manager’s stellar coaching career was probably just really blossoming, much like my sportswriting career.

That baseball manager, with his unmistakable voice and mannerisms was none other then Doyle Goodale, who hadn’t reached icon status yet in 1982, but he was on the fast track to it.

That summer, he was manager of the NASA-East Little League All-Stars and they were doing really, really well. One win led to another and another and before anyone knew it, NASA-East captured the district championship.

I apparently reported on so many of their games that after a practice or a game, the team surprised me with this baseball, autographed by all the boys.

How awesome is it, that 36 years later, I still have the gift presented to me by some appreciative children and their manager, the ball resting on a stand and its marble base. On one side, the inscription reads: NASA-East district champions 1982. On the other side, it says: Robert Avery No. 1 sportswriter.

After news of Goodale’s recent passing, I felt like Mr. Mertle, in “The Sandlot,” reaching into his cabinet of baseball memorabilia and pulling out not a baseball autographed by the 1927 Yankees, but a Doyle Goodale autographed baseball and the names of a dozen 12-year-olds.

That horsehide is good and brown now but the autographs still stand out like a beacon.

Maury Fogle, Andrew Shaffer, Eric Miley, Scott Bell, Mark Morreale, Dan Daly, Troy Valentino, Sean Wood, Thomas House, Brad Hinkle. They’re all there, scribbled on the horsehide or printed neatly on the horsehide.

As for Goodale’s autograph, it’s just above the stitching. In capitol letters, he wrote MGR and below it his name, printing each of the letters in his name.

He always was a stickler for detail. Coach Goodale wanted to make sure I could still read his name 36 years later.

The more I think about it, the more I believe Doyle Goodale and his 1982 NASA-East district champions left a permanent impression on me. Not a summer goes by that doesn’t have me at some youth ballfield.

And with each one comes terrific memories. This past summer, I did an article on the Pearland West 11-year-old all-stars for the Pearland Journal website. I interviewed Garritt, the team’s shortstop and two days later, while at his game and standing on my milk crate so I can peer above the fencing, Garritt comes running over to me, shakes my hand before running out to his shortstop position.

No doubt, the legacy of Doyle Goodale lives on in all the youngsters he coached, now productive members of society. Those that had him as a manager were blessed and this sportswriter was blessed to have met Doyle Goodale so early in my career and I have a 36-year-old baseball that reminds me of that blessing.


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