Remembering a good guy
There must be someone, someone from the Boys of Summer, who was born in August. A batboy? An assistant coach, the equipment manager? Except for Clem Labine, about whom I’ve already written, if there is I couldn’t find’em. Then, as I let my fingers do the walking, they bumped into a chap named Goodwin George “Goody” Rosen. And he just made it — August 28th.
Rosen is interesting. Unlike many players from the ’20s and ’30s, he was neither Irish nor Italian. He was a Canadian Jew. A sterling softball player, when he drove to Tampa, FL to try out for some minor league pro teams, he was told that his frame, 5’9”, was too small for pro ball. He got his break in 1931 with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League. By 1933 he was done with them and tied on with the Triple AAA Louisville Colonels. His manager was the great Burleigh Grimes and while his weight had dropped to 135 he hit .309. Except in 1935 when he batted .293, he was above .300 for four seasons. Then came the big break.
Grimes convinced the Dodgers to sign Rosen for ten grand or $188,000 in today’s dollars. He rewarded them by batting .312 for the 22 games he played. He did two stints with the Bums,’37-’39 and ’44-46. He was voted onto the All-Star team in 1945 and was then traded to the NY Giants. In his first season, he finished sixth in triples and had the highest fielding percentage of all major league outfields (.989) with 19 assists. 1945, his All-Star season, was his career-best finishing 10th in the MVP voting. He led the NL in batting during most of 1945 and had a .325 batting average which was 3rd in the league. He smacked 197 hits (2nd), 126 runs batted in (2nd), and 11 triples (3rd)). He did it with 606 at-bats and had a .460 slugging average (6th) a .379 on-base percentage (9th), and 14 sacrifice flies (10th). He hit 12 dingers and had 19 outfield assists. Not bad for 135 soaking wet.
It all came to an end in 1946. He suffered a career-ending clavicle injury running full tilt into the outfield wall. In six seasons Rosen posted a .291 batting average with .310 runs, 71 doubles, 34 triples, 22, homers, 197 Rbi’s, 218 walks, a .364 on-base percentage, and a .398 slugging percentage. He finished up with a .989 fielding percentage playing at all three outfield positions. Let’s hear it again for 135-pounders.
He did a bit in the International League and in 1948 switched to softball and became a phenom but he was tired. He went into business owning a successful restaurant in Toronto and was a business exec with the major Canadian brewery, Labatts. Here’s another measure of the man. He was so popular that well into his later years he was receiving over 2,000 fan mail letters a year. In what would be near inconceivable today he contracted pneumonia and it killed him. A proud Jew, at 81, he was buried in Beth Tzedec Memorial Park in April of 1994.
Here’s to a heck of a six years and the hope he’s still getting his fan mail—he deserves it. Happy August birthday Goody!
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