Billy Goodman Ends His Playing Career

And Begins His Managerial One, In the Houston Organization

Former AL Batting champ and two-time All-Star Billy Goodman came to the Colt .45's as a true free agent early in the 1962 season, and if Goodman at age 36 was no longer able to hit like he had for the 1950 Red Sox, he was able to hold his own, and was I guess considered a good clubhouse presence. The former "one-man bench" played first, second and third for Harry Craft's club, and true to form neither walked nor struck out nor homered very much. No word has survived on whether or not he defoliated the Colt infield through his grass-chewing, as he had so oddly done in Boston. Unlike Robin Roberts or Eddie Matthews, Goodman stayed in the Houston organization after the team could no longer offer him a job at the major league level.

A picture found in Robert Reed's fine book, A Six Gun Salute
Goodman and rookie Merritt Ranew
cross bats during the Colts' inaugural season

Billy Goodman's Playing Record in the Astros' Organization
Year Team League Avg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI K E
1962 Houston Colt .45's National .255 82 161 12 41 4 1 0 10 11 9
1963 Durham Bulls Carolina .354 71 175 29 62 12 0 6 37 8 6
1964 Durham Bulls Carolina .325 43 80 13 26 6 0 1 22 2 4

I don't know whether it was Goodman's or Paul Richards' idea for Goodman to play AND manage at Durham in 1963, but it worked well: Durham was 13 games over .500 and Goodman hit .354. Goodman's best move came on June 8th, when he called for a youngster by the name of Joe Morgan to make his professional debut at the plate in a pinch-hitting role. Morgan thereupon hit a two run homer and the Bulls ended up winning the game, in which they at one point had trailed 8 - 0. Similar magic did not occur in 1964; Morgan was at AA San Antonio, and two player/managers were not better than one. Goodman teaming with 1st Baseman/Outfielder Walt Matthews to run the club did not work, and the Bulls limped home at 54 - 82, by far the worst in the league. They gave Goodman full control at Cocoa in 1965, but that did not go much better. Cocoa had just built a new minor league/spring training complex for the newly-renamed Astros, but Goodman's squad did not do a very good job in christening it: they finished dead last, and only Leesburg had worse attendance.

Billy Goodman's Managerial Record in the Astros' Organization
Year Team League Record Placed
1963 Durham Bulls Carolina 78 - 65*   Second
1964 Durham Bulls Carolina 54 - 82*† Fifth and Last
1965 Cocoa Astros Florida State 52 - 81    Tenth and Last
*Player/Manager †Co-Manager with Walt Matthews

After the 1965 season, of course, the Richards regime was toppled, and like the unquestionably talented Lou Fitzgerald and like "hard sucker" Dave Philley, Goodman was forced to find employment elsewhere. Unlike those other two, I am not aware that Goodman was successful in that quest. I do know his last job in baseball was as coach for the 1976 Atlanta Braves, and also that Mr. Goodman died in 1984 after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 58.

The photo of Goodman used on the cover of the 1965 Cocoa pocket schedule