It’s been just over two weeks since we lost Tom Goffena on the very date of his 61st birthday following an extended battle with cancer. Back in 1977 just after graduating from Sidney High School, he became the first ever draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays, taken with overall choice 25 and resulting in a bonus in the $40,000 range.
Looking back at that draft, some future big names went in the top three choices including Harold Baines, Bill Gullickson, and Paul Molitor. There were also many first round names you wouldn’t recognize today which is normal. That draft also produced Ozzie Smith and Tim Raines in rounds four and five. Of these five, only Gullickson isn’t in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.
I knew and liked Tom Goffena from local baseball and hoped the strong armed shortstop would become Shelby County’s first home grown big leaguer. However, it wasn’t to be as his three minor league campaigns were derailed by continuing injury resulting in only 145 games played. Our county finally got its own major leaguer when Fort Loramie’s Jared Hoying made it to the Texas Rangers in 2016.
Tom maintained Sidney residence throughout his 61 years, and the online condolences accompanying his Cromes obituary attest to how much he was appreciated by others. Much more than simply a baseball player, Tom Goffena was both a good guy and a friend.
Whenever writing an article such as this, a comprehensive one-stop resource comes in handy. I’m happy to give credit to baseball-reference.com which has it all on teams, leagues, seasons, and players for both the majors and minors.
Info is available on former Shelby County minor leaguers Don Cordonnier, Tom Froning, William (David) Goffena, Eric Jaques, Randall (Randy) Schafer, Mark Voisard, and Tim Wells. Sorry if I missed anyone.
You can also find other guys with local ties. Auglaize County product Bob Ewing pitched a Sidney team to a 3-3 tie against the Cincinnati Reds at the current Berger Park in 1901, then worked eight quality seasons with the Reds en route to their Hall of Fame.
The expansion New York Mets lost a combined 231 games in 1962-63 but pitcher Ken MacKenzie had a winning record in each season while no other Mets hurler was a winner in either campaign. MacKenzie lived in the Sidney area during part of the 1960’s and was a regular visitor thereafter.
Former San Diego Padres pitcher Joey Long was a product of Graham High School and, at last report, still resides in that area. He was born in Sidney.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Baseball is the author’s favorite sport.