Wilbur 'Pop' Good: a piece of baseball history from Brooksville

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Wilbur 'Pop' Good: a piece of baseball history from Brooksville

July 03, 2017 - 10:46

Wilbur Goode, 1911; Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Benjamin K.  Edwards Baseball Card Collection. By American  Tobacco Company

On December 30, 1963, Wilbur "Pop" Good died in Brooksville at the age of 78. His passing received little attention at the time. Wilbur was a well known baseball player during his playing days. He played with the Chicago White Sox the year before some members of the team lost the World Series on purpose. This was the so called Black Sox players which was memorialized in the movie "Field of Dreams."

Wilbur was a former professional who played in the major leagues for 11 years. He was an outfielder for the New York Highlanders (1905), Cleveland Naps (1908–09), Boston Doves/Rustlers (1910–11), Chicago Cubs (1911–15), Philadelphia Phillies (1916) and Chicago White Sox (1918). During his playing years he was known as Wilbur “Lefty” Good.

He also appeared in 5 games as a pitcher with the New York Highlanders in 1905 with no wins and two losses, but he hit a .375 batting average. In 1906 and 1907, he was sent down to the minors and played as a pitcher for Akron where he had a respectable 12 wins and 6 losses in 1907. In 1908, he was moved to the outfield and hit an average of .370. He returned to the majors as an outfielder for the Cleveland Naps and played the rest of his professional career as an outfielder.

Wilbur was born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where he is definitely not the most famous resident- that honor goes to the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. He stayed in Pennsylvania before going professional. The Beaver Times of Beaver, Pennsylvania describes his pitching for Beaver College in their March 30, 1904 issue "Wilbur Good, the new pitcher, who made a reputation at Leetsdale last year, showed up finely yesterday, and made every man fan wind when they tried to locate his curves."

Wilbur played for the Chicago White Sox in 1918. The next year the White Sox made it to the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. A gambler Arnold Rothstein paid several of the White Sox players to intentionally lose the series, earning them the name “Black Sox.” This was known as the "Black Sox Scandal." Rothstein was said to have paid pitcher Eddie Cicotte $10,000, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson $5,000 and others varying amounts. Although Jackson later recanted his testimony and professed his innocence until his death. In all, eight Chicago White Sox players and two other players were banned for life from baseball. The eight Chicago White Sox players were also tried in court and acquitted. Wilbur had played with these players and knew them well.

In addition to his major league career Wilbur spent many years in the minors. He played in the minors until the 1931 season. He then became a manager until 1949. He won four league championships, first with Kansas City Blues in 1923 winning the American Association. Then with the Johnstown Johnnies in 1930, he won the Mid-Atlantic League. After that, in 1941 he won the Florida State League with the Leesburg Anglers. Finally in 1948 he won the Georgia State League with Fitzgerald Pioneers. Managing is where Wilbur's nickname went from "Lefty" to "Pop."

Wilbur is buried in the Brooksville Cemetery. This area is home to a rich baseball tradition and for the past 100 years has been a destination for many baseball players like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and has produced a number of professional players.