By Margaret Hicks
Baseball has long been considered America’s favorite pastime with its rich history of legendary characters and melodramatic moments. Characters and moments like Hank Aaron slugging his 715th home run, eclipsing the previous record set by Babe Ruth; and Willie Mays who in the first game of the 1954 World Series made what is known today simply as “The Catch.” And what about Jackie Robinson, the first African American to join a major league baseball team? “Robinson was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1947 and Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1949. Robinson did more than just break the color barrier. He shattered it with his on-the-field athleticism and his off-the-field behavior. Robinson realized he had the hopes of an entire culture on his shoulders. He carried it so well, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962,” said the late Nick Stewart.
About Greg Goodwin & MVP
And then, there is Greg Goodwin who gives new meaning to the acronym “MVP.”
Goodwin is CEO and founder of Mentoring Viable Prospect (MVP). Goodwin grew tired of hearing people talk about African Americans’ declining interest in baseball.
To quote Tulsa’s District One City Counselor, Vanessa Hall-Harper, (quoting Shirley Chisholm), “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” Implementing an idea is what Goodwin did, thus the birth of MVP.
MVP is a summer baseball tournament whose mission is to provide opportunities and exposure for young athletes pursuing a college education. Its objective is to positively mentor each player in the areas of character development, social and emotional growth, academic achievement, and physical well- being. MVP “sets a foundation for success on and off the field.”
The MVP Tournament gives these young athletes an opportunity to showcase their talent and skills to college and university scouts from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and even the Major League Baseball Association (MLB). This “grassroots effort has grown to include a group of African-American big-league scouts — Danny Montgomery of the Rockies, Steve Williams of the Pirates, Chip Lawrence of the Padres and Clarence Jones of the Rangers.”
Between 2006 and 2013 89 MVP participants have received athletic scholarships and 22 have been signed with MLB.
According to Goodwin’s aunt, Jo Ann Gilford, as a youth, Goodwin always wanted to play football, “but he was so small, so he played baseball instead. But look at him now!” She said he’d say, “Aunt Jo, am I gonna get taller?” She assured him that he would, and he did.
After graduating from Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School in 1975, Goodwin attended Tennessee State University on a baseball scholarship. After graduating in 1979, and turning down a free agent opportunity with the San Francisco Giants, he returned to Tennessee State and worked as the Assistant Sports Information Director while completing his Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
Goodwin started coaching in 1986 at Redan high in the DeKalb County School District (Metro Atlanta, Ga.) He coached football, basketball, baseball, and girls’ softball while teaching Social Studies.
His greatest success came as the baseball coach from 1988-1999 compiling a record of 228 wins against only 96 losses. Goodwin was named Coach of the Year four times and Coach of the Decade in 1999 for the Dekalb County School District. He assisted dozens of young men and women in obtaining college scholarships and had 12 players drafted into professional baseball during his coaching career.
Goodwin, who was inducted into the Georgia Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame as the first African American and the youngest inductee in 2001, retired as a part time Baseball Scout with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015 after 15 years with their organization.
Goodwin retired after a career at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, GA, where he started out as a teacher, ended up as the principal and in between was the baseball coach. He was around for the transition of the school from 100 percent white students to its current all-black enrollment.
He took pleasure when as the principal in 2013, Redan became one of the few high schools to have three of its players who turned pro as preps in the big leagues at the same time: Chris Nelson of the Rockies, Domonic Brown of the Phillies and Brandon Phillips of the Reds.”
It’s In The Blood
It’s been said that Goodwin’s dad, the late Ed Goodwin, Jr., had (newspaper) ink in his blood; it can be said that his son has baseball in his! Recently Goodwin has come out of retirement and is serving as Interim Athletic Director for Georgia’s third largest school district, Dekalb County School System.