Long before he became one of baseball’s hottest prospects, long before he even saw the Southern University campus, young Danny Goodwin developed a special fondness for the Fourth of July.
As a youngster in Oakland, Calif., he played for a Little League baseball team with a funny name and a natural rival.
“Our team was called ?Doggy Diner,’ “ Goodwin, 57, said. “There was another Doggy Diner in West Oakland. Every Fourth of July, they had us play each other. That was a really big deal. A lot of people were there for us. It was like the Giants playing the A’s.”
“We actually were good enough that we ended up winning the city championship.”
Almost a half-century has passed since then, but the same things ring true for Goodwin: He still loves baseball, and this Fourth of July weekend figures to be most special of all.
Sunday night in Lubbock, Texas, the former Southern star will go into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
It promises to be a full-circle kind of moment for Goodwin, whose father once taught at Grambling.
At that time, Grambling’s president was an iconic man named Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones. He not only hired football coach Eddie Robinson and basketball coach Fred Hobdy, but also coached the baseball team from 1926-77.
In an odd-but-fitting coincidence, Jones will also go into the College Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
They will join Terry Francona (Arizona), Dick Groat (Duke), Oddibe McDowell (Arizona State), Tim Wallach (Cal State Fullerton) and Bill Wilhelm (Clemson) as the 2011 class of inductees.
Goodwin, 57, holds a unique distinction in baseball history: He remains the only player to be selected No. 1 overall in two Major League Baseball drafts.
His family moved from Oakland to Peoria, Ill., and by his senior year in high school, Goodwin’s cannon arm and mammoth home runs quickly made news in all the major league scouting departments.
In 1971, the Chicago White Sox drafted him No. 1 overall, but they couldn’t talk him into signing a contract.
He opted instead for four years under Emory Hines at Southern - a place he hadn’t seen until the first day of fall classes.
At SU, Goodwin had a .394 career batting average with 20 home runs and 166 RBIs, and in 1975 The Sporting News named him College Player of the Year.
The Angels drafted Goodwin No. 1 overall in 1975, but his big-league career fell short of those sky-high expectations. Playing for three teams from 1975-82, he finished with a .236 average.
Goodwin later served as director of the Atlanta Braves Foundation, which developed athletic and educational programs for kids in Georgia. He now works in private business. “I know the last few years, everyone knows Southern baseball,” he said. “But back in the time that I played, I wondered. I don’t know how much news was actually circulating.”
It circulated, all right. All the way to Lubbock.