Who are the coaches behind the scenes teaching our beloved Boston Red Sox? The name Tom Goodwin is familiar but who is he and what does he do?
Tom Goodwin is the first base coach and the coordinator responsible for the baserunning instruction for the Boston Red Sox. We’re taught growing up not to play favorites. But in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that Goodwin is one of my favorite coaches.
For the majority of live baseball games I’ve attended, I’ve sat either on the side of the first baseline or the side of the third baseline. With all the Red Sox games that I’ve gone to, the one thing that’s stuck out to me (aside from the boys of summer on the field) is coach Tom Goodwin.
He’s often seen with a big smile on his face, joking around with players and umpires, and interacting with fans. It’s so easy for coaches and athletes to get carried away in their role on the field: playing the game itself. Goodwin will interact with fans between innings. I think it’s incredible that a coach goes so out of his way to make fans feel like they’re part of the game itself.
Aside from one biased fan’s opinion, who is Tom Goodwin? Goodwin was born on July 27, 1968, in Fresno, California. He was drafted from high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 6th round of the 1986 draft but elected to go to college instead.
Goodwin played at Fresno for three years and made a huge impact. He led the Fresno State Bulldogs to the 1988 College World Series and the NCAA Tournament in 1989. He was a Golden Spikes finalist in 1989. Goodwin was named First-Team All-American and led with 61 stolen bases in the nation and created a school-record 29-game hitting streak.
He played in the 1988 Olympic Seoul Games (the USA won gold this year for the first time). When he graduated from Fresno State he held the school’s record for stolen bases with 164. His jersey is retired, among only 10 other retired jerseys in Bulldogs history. To this day, he’s still in the top 10 for his .350 BA, 821 at-bats, 207 runs, 287 hits, and 13 triples.
Later, Goodwin was drafted in the first round of the 1989 draft by the LA Dodgers. He had a career .268 BA, .332 OBP, and .339 SLG over his 14-year MLB career. Goodwin bounced around through the NL and AL (spending 8 years playing on the NL side and 6 years playing on the AL side).
He spent five years with the Dodgers, four years with the Royals, three years with the Rangers, two years with the Cubs, and one year with the Giants. He was a center fielder who threw right-handed and batted left-handed. Remind you of anyone? (Answer- Jackie Bradley Jr.)
Goodwin appeared on the top-10 leaders’ board numerous times over those 14 years. Including 5 seasons for caught stealing; 3 for sacrifice hits, singles, doubles played turned as a CF, fielding percentage as a OF, and 2 for defensive games as a CF. For his career, he ranks 31st in the league for his fielding percentage as a CF and 44th in the league for his fielding percentage as an OF.
He played in a total of 1,288 major league games, experiencing great success with stealing bases- he had 4 seasons of 50+ stolen bases. From 1995-2000 he led the league in steals (298). He ranks 8th in Rangers history with 98 stolen bases and 10th in Royals history with 150 stolen bases.
Goodwin first got into the other side of baseball, coaching, in 2007. He managed the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona fall league and then Lewisville in the Independent Continental Baseball League. Tom then spent four seasons in the Red Sox minor league system as an outfield and base running coordinator as a coach with the Short-A Lowell team.
Through a promotion, Goodwin moved on to spend six years with the New York Mets as their first base coach from 2012-2017. The opportunity with the Mets allowed him to enhance his portfolio. As a Mets coach, his responsibilities were also to coach the outfielders and assist with base running.
During the six-year stint with the Mets, the team experienced success. Mets base runners were caught the fewest times in the NL (holding a 72.0% success rate of stealing bases). The outfield ranked third in the NL with 177 assists.
In 2017, he rejoined the Red Sox organization, this time as a first base coach in charge of the running game. The Red Sox have seen success since Goodwin’s rejoining. In 2018,
Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Bradley Jr. all set a career-high in steals. The Red Sox stole 125 bases for only the second time in club history. They had an 80.1% success rate for stolen bases and ranked 3rd in the MLB for steals.
According to MLB.com the first-base coach is responsible for relaying signals from the dugout to the batter and baserunners. It is Goodwin’s responsible to pick the appropriate time for Red Sox players to steal bases. In addition, it is important that he knows the opposing pitchers well. He must be able to key into signs and signals to alter runners when a pitcher is going to attempt a pick-off throw.
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Goodwin’s career speaks for itself. He had talent, skill, and work ethic to last 14 years in the majors (which is not an easy feat). Just because you’re great at something doesn’t mean that you can teach others. Goodwin is the anomaly in this case because he’s capable and proven that he can do both. The two major league teams that he’s joined as a coach have had great success in his area of responsibilities.
The Red Sox have had a shaky 2019 season. Goodwin has added excitement for fans watching the impressive speed of Red Sox players as they get into the minds of pitchers with their base-stealing abilities. I’m a big fan of Goodwin and I’m excited to see what else he’s able to bring to the Red Sox organization.
The Red Sox haven’t stolen nearly as much in 2019. They currently have 58 stolen bases and have been caught stealing 25 times. Why haven’t we seen it more in the game plans this season?
I love watching players steal a base. I love the opportunities that it brings. I love the excitement. I love the strategy behind it. Hopefully, the game plan moving forward includes a lot of base stealing and wins over the next few series with the Twins, Yankees, and Jays.