Goodwin: for whom bell tolls

June 12, 1995|By KEN ROSENTHAL

Will she or won't she?

Arterlia Goodwin is wavering.

"I'm chicken to go shake my bell," she said yesterday from San Leandro, Calif. "I always jinx Curtis when I come to see him."

Will she or won't she?

"She can't be no jinx," Curtis said. "I've got to give the lady a call. She'll be here when we get back [from the road trip], for sure."

Oh, Arterlia Goodwin is going to wave her cowbell at Camden Yards, just as she vowed two years ago when her younger son was in A ball.

The jinx?

Well, it seems Curtis got ejected after a bench-clearing brawl the first day of her visit to Frederick in 1993, and went 3-for-40 after she arrived in Bowie last season.

Mama, stay home!

Goodwin has been in the majors 10 days, and he already has nine multi-hit games. He has been in the majors 10 days, and he's batting .475.

"He's doing me good," said Arterlia, who raised Curtis and his older brother, James, as a single parent. "I taught him well, huh?"

Goodwin, 22, is doing a lot of people good.

Phil Regan, the manager who anointed him.

Ed Sprague, the scout who discovered him.

And Ricky Ricardo, the owner of a sports bar in San Leandro where Goodwin's family and friends gather each night to watch the Orioles on satellite TV.

Ricky Ricardo?

He said that's his name.

The bar is called Ricky's. Ricardo sets aside a private room for the Goodwin gang. Arterlia was on her way over yesterday morning, with the game starting at 10:35 PDT.

"It's been good for business," Ricardo said. "But even more than the business, it's just a nice feeling. They've got 15 or 20 people. They come down all the time."

The crowd includes Goodwin's friends, his aunts and uncles, even some of his boyhood coaches.

"They turn it into a big party," Goodwin said.

And why not?

Goodwin was a 12th-round draft pick.

Sprague discovered him by accident.

The day he first saw Goodwin in spring 1991, he intended to scout Chris Gambs, a highly regarded pitcher from Monte Vista High.

"There were 20 scouts there to see Gambs pitch," Sprague recalled yesterday from his home in Lodi, Calif. "And there was this kid playing right field for San Leandro, just bouncing around.

"The coach hit him a few fly balls during infield practice, and he dropped a couple. But you could see his speed and quickness. I said, 'Who's that guy?'

"He was the first hitter of the game. He got on and made things happen. He stole second on the first pitch. He stole third on the next pitch. And he scored on a ground ball to shortstop."

Now, Sprague was intrigued. He returned to see Goodwin play four or five more times. John Cox, the Orioles' West Coast scouting supervisor, accompanied him at least twice.

Cox said it's unusual for a supervisor to see a potential draft pick more than once -- there are too many players to scout. But from the start, the Orioles thought they had something special in Goodwin.

"We went back because there wasn't an awful lot of activity on Curtis -- to be honest, I don't know why," Cox said last night from his hotel room in Frederick, where yesterday he had watched the Keys.

"What I saw was a strong, athletic body and a kid who likes to play. Those are the basics. Now, we get into the tools. You've got to be lucky. You want to see him perform. And when I saw him, he looked pretty darned good.

"He hit the ball hard. He played with aggressiveness. The speed was there -- you didn't have to be an Einstein to see that. And while he didn't have an Alex Ochoa arm, he threw it on a line, had a good feel.

"There was something about the way he played the game."

Goodwin, a former tailback, turned down a football scholarship from Idaho State to sign with the Orioles for $20,000 plus the cost of a college education.

Gambs, the pitcher Sprague originally went to see?

He was San Francisco's fourth-round pick in 1991, and is now with Single-A Piedmont in the Philadelphia organization.

Scouting, it's all about scouting.

Sprague is best known for nurturing the Orioles' Stanford connection -- Mike Mussina, Jeffrey Hammonds, Brian Sackinsky, Paul Carey. But Goodwin's success has him especially excited.

"Mussina and Hammonds, those are guys everyone saw," Sprague said, referring to the Orioles' No. 1 picks in 1990 and '92. "Any time you get a kid down in the [later] rounds and he gets to the big leagues, you're a little more proud."

Goodwin remains grateful to Sprague -- the day after his major-league debut, he autographed a newspaper photograph for the scout, "To Ed, thanks for believing in me."

He's even more grateful to his mother.

Arterlia, a special-education teacher in an Oakland elementary school, moved the family to the suburbs when Curtis was in grade school. "If my mother didn't get me out of Oakland," he once said, "there's no telling where I'd be."

That's why he tolerates the bell.

It's loud. It's annoying. But it's his mom's.

"I've tried to hide that thing so many times," Curtis will grumble, but his mother just laughs.

"All in all, he really loves the bell," she said. "We're supposed to bronze it after I shake it in Camden Yards, but I doubt we'll do that. It's been around so long. It's part of us."

And the jinx?

Curtis phoned home after yesterday's game, and told his mother he'd purchase her plane ticket.

She's coming.

Of course, she's coming.

"Hopefully the next homestand," Arterlia Goodwin said.

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