Baseball Memory Lab - Exhibit #7900

Uncle Johnny


    I love Baseball largely because of my uncle, Johnny Goryl, and I see three of his baseball cards on my bulletin board as I compose this memory here at the HQ. A utility infielder, "Gentleman John" broke in with the Cubs in 1957, going on to play six seasons including the last three with the Twins. He managed 14 seasons in the Minors, and took over as Twins manager in 1980, fired by Cal Griffith in 1981 while given little payroll to work with. I mention Uncle Johnny in this Baseball Memory because I remember the boxes of used Carolina League balls he would bring to my hometown in Evansville, Indiana, when I was a boy, and I remember the curve ball he taught me and the trick of rubbing cigarette ashes on the outside of your hand and "magically" making them appear on your palm. My first pro sports love was all Minnesota sports, including the Vikings, because through him I grew up loving Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and the Twins. One of my greatest thrills in three decades in sports media was working the 1997 World Series, which was Uncle Johnny's first and only Fall Classic in what would be over a half-century in pro baseball. He was Mike Hargrove's bench coach, and was partly responsible for the development of guys like Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga and so forth. To see the satisfaction of being in uniform in a dugout for a Fall Classic, when they are rare, is as good as it gets. He is out there in retirement now, 78 and going strong, best buddies with Charlie Manuel and trading their daily phone calls, probably not knowing exactly how much he meant to someone who works in the business now, and I take this opportunity to salute him for a great and inspiring Baseball life. I have a million memories in the game, been to so many major events like Ripken 2131 and Big Mac 62 and Touch 'Em All Joe, worked no-hitters and am a Hall of Fame voter, but what matters most to me in Baseball is honoring Uncle Johnny.

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