Astros in the Sky
The Deadball Era
Born: Mar 22, 1926
In 16 seasons Billy Goodman played every position except pitcher and catcher. A lifetime .300 hitter, he was the ultimate slap hitter. He won the AL batting championship in 1950.
Goodman was brought up on a North Carolina dairy farm and assisted in the usual variety of chores -- duties, he later said, that served him in good stead in his later role as a utility man. Farming, however, held little appeal compared to baseball. "I just never thought of doing anything else except playing baseball," he said. "It was an ambition of mine right from the very beginning."
Signed by a scout for the Atlanta Crackers, an independent Southern Association club, Goodman tore up the league: he hit .336, led the circuit in runs scored, and tied the lead for triples. After serving a year in the military, he returned to Atlanta in 1946, hit .389, and was bought by the Red Sox.
Goodman became Boston's starting first baseman in 1948, when he hit .310. The next year, he led AL first basemen in fielding average and was selected to the first of his two All-Star Games.
In 1950, Goodman was bounced all over defensively, starting at every infield and outfield position. The novelty seemed to do him good: he won the AL batting title with a .354 average. Two years later, he began to settle down as the regular second baseman, filling the shoes of Boston legend Bobby Doerr. That was the first of three consecutive years that he hit over .300.
After a 1-for-16 start in 1957, Goodman was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He bounced back to finish the season at .308. That December, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Twelve years into his career, Goodman finally made it to the World Series with the "Go Go Sox" of 1959. "We had a bunch of good boys there," he said. "They played together, as a unit, better than any club I ever played on. We were a fine defensive team and we had phenomenal pitching."
After two years spent mainly on the bench, Goodman was granted his unconditional release by Chicago in May 1962, and finished his major league career with the expansion Houston Colt .45s where he hit .255 in 82 games. He later scouted for the Red Sox, managed in the Houston system, coached for Atlanta, and served in the Kansas City organization. He passed away from cancer in 1984.