We sat down with Long Beach Century Club member and sports history buff Dan Gooch at the Annex to chat about the sports figures of Long Beach’s past (13:39-52:53). In 'Iron Sharpens Iron' we talked the Wilson girls’ water polo CIF-SS championship and Long Beach State’s 22nd ranked softball team (3:21-8:40). Hipster clothes and people in elevators have been pissing us off lately in 'Grind My Gears' (8:45-12:55). Our newest segment ‘Fun Facts’ taught us some cool things about our city (55:07-58:40). As always we ended the show with the 908 Athlete of the Week. This week is UCLA Bruins freshman pitcher Zach Pettway (58:52-1:02:46).
Q&A Dan Gooch
Q: Do you have a cool sports story you can tell us, something that we might not know?
A: The Nighthawks, won ten world championships at Joe Rodger’s Stadium it used to be called Joe Rodger’s Field but after Joe Rodgers died a gentleman by the name of Red Meers took over the Nighthawks and after he passed members of the Century Club went before the city council and the parks and recreation and we asked and they agreed to rename the field and the field itself is Red Meers Field. Both those gentlemen are continuously honored.
Q: So the Nighthawks were a fast pitch softball team?
A: They were fast pitch softball team back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The Hawks were the pinnacle of sports in Long Beach and as kids we would ride our bikes up there when we were eight and nine years old.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the Goose Invitational?
A: We named it the Goose invitational because that is my nickname. The way I got that is somebody mispronounced my name in high school and that was it. The golf tournament started when I got back from Vietnam, a friend of mine and I were out carousing and we went over to my house late at night about two, three, four o’clock in the morning and he was a golfer and I wasn’t and we were going to go play golf and I was asking him for the spot and he wouldn’t tell me the proper number of strokes that I thought so I said the heck with it lets play around the block so we went in my garage and got two 3-woods out and two real golf balls and of course we were half in the bag and hit it around the block twice and didn’t break any windows, no car windows, nothing. It started at El Dorado then we moved over to Rec Park and we raised money for high school, city college and Long Beach State for the next 33 years.
Q: Can you explain what the Century Club does for the city and the young athletes that are up and coming?
A: The Century Club is a 501c3 charitable organization and our sole purpose is to raise funds to support local amateur athletes and/or sporting events in the city of Long Beach. For the past 62 years we do three major events we have a sports banquet that we just held on January 29, then we have a middle school program where we recognize all the middle school athletes, and then we throw a golf tournament.
Q: Give us a good old time banquet story?
A: The sports banquet used to be held at the old Lafayette Hotel and condominium on Lindon Ave. just north of Ocean Blvd. The banquet itself used to go past midnight sometimes till 1 o’clock in the morning. This was a hard drinking and sports people would be coming in from Los Angeles and all over the place and this is one of the longest running sports banquets in California, if not west of the Mississippi, we don’t track everybody else but we know how long we have been around. The biggest stars that you can think of in the sports world were at that banquet.
Q: What is your karaoke song?
A: You are looking at a man that will never get on a karaoke stage in his life.
Q: Have you ever had a beer with Yogi Berra?
A: I have not but I met him when he was at a book store in Belmont Shore promoting his book.
Q: Do you know Joe Maddon?
A: I have met coach Maddon and I’m going again to Spring Training in Scottsdale. He is a Long Beach resident and I’ve talked to him but I wouldn’t say I know him.
Q: What is the difference between a monsignor and a priest?
A: Monsignor is almost like an honorary position which the current pope has done away with. Any monsignor that you see is one of the last ones you will see.
Q: You and Skip Roland were very tight, can you tell us what he meant to you?
A: When I graduated from Wilson High in 1964 and Skip Roland was the football coach and later became the baseball coach and the golf coach and he was a legend in town at that time. My three years at Wilson High because it was a three-year school then, I never said one word to Skip Roland because he would be walking around campus with a clipboard in his hand, his hat pulled down and he had this pock mark face and he always had this scowl on his face so I always steered clear and I didn’t play football but I always steered clear of him. Later on about twenty years after I graduated I saw skip and he was the golf coach at that time and they were at rec park having a putting contest and I asked him “coach what’s going on?” and he looked at me going “who are you?” He said well I’m having a putt-a-thon to raise money for the golf game and I asked how much do you raise and he said around three to four hundred dollars. I said why don’t we up that a little bit and have a golf tournament. As happen stance would be the next weekend was my golf tournament. The 25 years I ran the golf tournament with Skip was probably the best 25 years of my life.
Q: Can you talk about the 1984 Olympics and the running of the torch through Long Beach?
A: The torch run was originally not scheduled to go through Belmont Shore. It was scheduled to go down Pine Ave. and was not scheduled to go down Belmont Shore. At that time John Morris was the owner and operator of Legends bar which is still there today. When John Morris puts his mind to something it is going to get done and he marshaled his forces and he got the Olympic organizing committee to redirect the boundary to go down 2nd street. It was bigger than the Christmas parade. I have never seen a more electric crowd in Long Beach for any other event.
Q: Why is The Annex the best bar in Long Beach?
A: That’s a matter of opinion but when I was younger I mean I’ve been drinking in this bar for 54 years. I know you weren’t born then but we got out here after we made out fraternity at city college and we became news members so they brought us all over here on a Sunday night and that is why I’m drinking this ancient schooner here because my fraternity brothers brought me beer like this that cost 50 cents. One of the things that is special about The Annex no matter where you are seated you can see everybody in the bar.
Q: Did you ever go to the Trap?
A: I have a t-shirt from the Trap.
Q: Why is this place called The Annex?
A: There is a bar across the street and in 1951 or 52 they were renovating it. Patrons were saying what are we going to do while you’re shutting this place down? This little slot was open and they just said we will start serving some beer over here and an interim basis and they called it The Annex because it was the annex to the Copper Door across the street.
Q: What is your favorite sports movie?
A: Probably “The Pride of the Yankees.”
Q: What is your song you put on the jukebox?
A: I don’t listen to music. My wife listens to music.
Q: What is your least favorite beverage?
A: I just had it at the Huntington Beach Marathon where the Century Club was pouring beers in the beer garden and they had some stuff and I won’t say the name but it was some kind of mix of wine a spritzer.
Q: Who is your favorite athlete from Long Beach?
A: Skip Roland.
Q: Best golf course you have ever played at?
A: My favorite golf course in the world is Spyglass Hill.
Q: What is your favorite beer?
A: It used to be Budweiser for many, many years and primarily not only because I was drinking it but because they sponsored my golf tournament. It took about 10 or 12 years but my family finally weened me over to liking Coors Light.