BANDON — Pete Goodbrod will be on the edge of his seat this weekend as the Oregon State baseball team tries to qualify for the College World Series.
He has more than a passing interest.
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The longtime Bandon resident was the captain and starting centerfielder the first year Oregon State made it to the World Series in Omaha, Neb. — back in 1952.
Goodbrod, who turned 84 on Monday, said things were much different then.
"They play more games," Goodbrod said. "They go more places. They're on the road a lot. They have an infield coach, a hitting coach and a bench coach."
During Goodbrod's era, the Beavers — who host Kansas State in an NCAA super regional this weekend — had a few standout coaches. Ralph Coleman, the head coach and Paul Valenti, his assistant, who also helped coach the basketball team under the legendary Slats Gill before becoming head coach of that team. Both are in the Oregon State University Hall of Fame, along with the 1952 team.
Goodbrod said many of the players thought Oregon State was better in 1951, when they finished 22-4, but lost to USC in a three-game series that decided the Pacific Coast championship.
In 1952 they took two straight against the Trojans — Goodbrod had the game-winning single in the ninth inning of the clinching game — and then also beat Fresno State two games in a row to punch their ticket to Omaha.
Once there, Oregon State didn't fare well in the stifling Nebraska heat.
The team traveled by train, and arrived in Omaha at 3:30 in the morning, when the temperature was 85 degrees.
"It was over 100 degrees at game time," Goodbrod said of the team's first game, a loss to Duke. The Beavers were eliminated the next day by Texas in a game played at noon, again in the heat.
"It was a chore just to go from the dugout to your position in the field," he said.
Goodbrod also walked on to OSU's basketball team under Gill and was on the squad during its initial season in Gill Coliseum.
But he looks at the World Series as the highlight of his career, which also included playing for several years in the semipro league in Southwestern Oregon, which at the time had teams in several towns.
During different summers, Goodbrod played for the Bandon Millers, the Coquille Loggers and the Coos Bay-North Bend Lumberjacks. He also played for Reedsport's team in the state tournament in 1950, helping that squad place third.
He was among the league's best hitters, both before and after college.
It was semipro baseball that first brought him to Bandon, where he met his wife, Joan in 1950 — they were married in 1951. And he came back after serving in the military and the couple made their home on the South Coast, never regretting staying in the area after he retired in 1993.
"We traveled around and didn't find a lot of places that were as good year-round as Bandon," he said.
Goodbrod worked for a few different lumber companies and spent the final 33 years of his career driving a lumber truck for Rogge Forest Products.
He also spent much of that time — some 30 years — volunteering as a coach for Bandon, both at the high school and the junior high.
"I enjoyed that," he said.
Goodbrod first helped coach football with Dick Sutherland, who was a member of the same fraternity — Kappa Delta Rho.
He also helped with basketball and baseball. And when Pete and Joan's daughters, Michelle and Cindy, reached high school, he helped coach track.
"The great thing about being a walk-on coach is you never get fired unless the person who asked you to coach doesn't like you anymore," Goodbrod said.
Goodbrod got to watch his daughters compete and also to follow in the footsteps of their mom as Cranberry Festival queen. He was even the mystery king one year, allowing the entire family to share in the festival royalty, Joan said.
Goodbrod has been slowed by Parkinson's Disease, but his love for baseball, and especially the Beavers, continues.
Since his eyesight isn't as good as it used to be, he has Joan read the Major League boxscores to him, starting with the Cubs, with former Beaver Darwin Barney, followed by the Red Sox, and ex OSU star Jacoby Ellsbury.
And he follows the college team closely, which is why this weekend means a lot to him.
"I'll be on the edge of my seat rooting them on as I always do," he said.