Greg Goossen on Sick’s Stadium and Life as a Seattle Pilot

These questions for Greg Goossen of the 1969 Seattle Pilots were posed by Steve Cox and Brad Powers as they prepared to make their documentary about the team, The Seattle Pilots: Short Flight Into History, which is available for purchase at Amazon.com. You can also read up about the film.

Here is part of the exchange between “SC/BP” and Goossen, who died early in 2011. You can read the whole interview at Hardball Times.

SC/BP: How did you feel about Sick’s?

GG: Loved it. When I was a kid we watched old Hollywood movies about baseball, they weren’t these luxurious ballyards – they were ballyards like Sick’s. Nothing better than the advertisements on the walls and they were all different. There isn’t a ballpark like Sick’s Stadium. There isn’t a ballpark like Wrigley Field. There isn’t a ballpark like Fenway. I loved those parks. The lighting could have been better. I loved it. Of course I did very well there. I hit double-digit home runs there in very few games. Loved it.

SC/BP: What did you do after the 1969 season?

GG: That was a journey that broke my heart. I used to say, “well I played and they got rid of me.” To me, Joe Schultz who managed Seattle was the smartest manager I ever met in my life. You know why? He played me! It’s the truth. I deemed him a genius. And not knowing whether we were going to leave Seattle, well, we were there in spring training on the last day and had no idea. I thought if we stayed in Seattle and Joe was still there I would have been the starting first baseman. No doubt. I hit .309 in Seattle. Ten home runs, 24 RBI’s in 57 times at bat which is…I should have played even more when I was with Seattle.

Dave Bristol was the manager in Milwaukee – or Seattle at the time. We didn’t get along well at all. I damn near didn’t make the club, much less start. I broke camp with them and ended up with Milwaukee. Not for long though, about a month and Bristol got rid of me.

SC/BP: Besides his tactical abilities, what did you think of Joe Schultz?

GG: He was great with the players. I mean, by the time they get to the big leagues, what are you going to tell them? Their path is sort of marked. The human element like in football or any other sport means so much. You really want to go out and win for them. I wanted to go out and win for Joe so badly. He was a good man. A good man to play for.

SC/BP: What did you think about the crowds in Seattle?

GG: There is not a thing about Seattle that I didn’t love. I mean if we had stayed here and I played 20 years here and the Dodgers wanted me or Chicago – I wouldn’t take any money. I was the happiest guy in the world and part of it was my teammates. A lot of it was my teammates. There was not an ego on the team.

There were guys who were up and coming down. Or guys who never got a chance. There were guys who had been on World Series teams like Ray Oyler for Detroit. They were the greatest bunch of guys I’d ever been around in my life.

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