Motherscratcher, this one's for you.
"Get a Job, Sir!" That's what a young, 16-year old's parents told him to do one fateful winter day in 1958. And so he did. He went out, worked hard, and finally got the job he had been yearning for. A starting spot on the Cleveland Indians roster.
Most people haven't heard of this guy. That's because he never broke any records. He never led the league in any statistical category. He never made the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, either. He just got up, went to work, and did his job. For 18 years.
Aftab Thurgood McGoo, or "Tabby" as he'd become to the younger players who sought his tutelage, had humble beginnings in major league baseball. Being a native of Ohio, he wanted to play for his childhood heroes, the Indians. Their farm system in the late 1950's and early 60's was a tough egg to crack, as he'd come to learn. For 5 long years he'd bounce around from club to club, playing mouth harp and running card games at bars just to pay bus fare. His glove was a hand-me-down from his great grandfather, Percival McGoo, who was in his own right a fair ballplayer for the Cincinatti Outlaw Reds of the old Union Association back in the late 19th century. His cleats were merely regular shoes - winnings from a card game between he and some horse jockeys from Dayton. But his bat was hand-carved from a tree growing in the front yard of his childhood home. Sound familiar? Well, this is the story the bat YOU'RE thinking of came from. That's right.
Back to the story. So 5 years passed, and Tabby still wasn't on a major league roster. But finally, on May 13th, 1963, the right person saw Aftab McGoo take a swing - that swing was all he needed. After the game (in which the now-folded Akron Bellymashers lost 16-0) a scout from the Indians big league club asked McGoo if he'd like to play 3rd base for the Indians - to which Tabby said "Boy, would I!" The rest is history.
McGoo would go on to play may years for the Indians, and would eventually end his major league career there in 1981. In 1982 and 1983, he played for a couple teams over in Japan, and went on to manage for 7 more years after that. He's now a sports writer for a newspaper in Hiroshima, performing the duties as beat writer for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. If you're over there, look him up. He'd love to spin yarns about his days playing for the Cleveland Indians.
I went digging through my boxes, and was able to come up with a few of his baseball cards from back during his early playing days. If you think some of the photos resemble cards of other Indians players from that same era, you're wrong. Absolutely wrong. Any resemlance to other 1960's baseball cards is likely a product of the card company's error, and nothing more. Yes, his appearance did change over the years, but show me a ball player whose face doesn't. What with years and years of summer sunshine, chewing tobacco, and sweat. But hey, that was Aftab McGoo.
If at this point you are totally lost, this post is in response to Motherscratcher's comment left on this post from earlier in the week. Aw, it all makes sense now.
*Editor's Note: You can see the very rare (more rare than a T206 Wagner) 60T Aftab McGoo rookie card here, compliments of punkrockpaint.
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