A Man of Many Hats

Aug 7, 2010 | 2010 Articles, Contributors, Education, Larry Ham, Reedley News, Sports

by Larry Ham

Will Goldbeck is a man who’s worn a lot of hats in his life. He has an incredible collection of sports-related baseball caps but that’s not what I’m referring to. When it comes to the local sports scene, Will Goldbeck has done it all — often at the same time.

Will Goldbeck

I met Will in 1986, right after I began working at KRDU radio in Dinuba. Will came in on Saturday mornings to do a local sports recap on the morning newscast that I anchored. We shared a passion for sports and became good friends. I thought I knew sports. I thought I knew more about sports than anyone. That’s the thing about sports fans — our arrogance we know it all. That feeling was quickly vanquished when I discovered what everyone else discovers about Will Goldbeck: he knows more about sports than anyone I have met.

Will was born and raised in Selma, attending local schools and graduating from Selma High in 1972. His career in local sports began partially due to a debilitating illness suffered by his mother. She went into a rest home when Will was just 10 years old and Will spent summer days while his father worked at Sun Maid at the home of family friends Ray and Catherine Cox, relatives of current Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox. Ray’s sons, Mel and Stan played Little League as Will kept score for their team and got interested in announcing. He started announcing Little League fulltime in 1969, the second season at the current Selma Little League Park on Olive Street, just north of Selma’s St. Joseph Catholic Church. He was “drafted” from elementary school to do statistics for high school in eighth grade and the announcing came naturally. Announcing sporting events has been an ongoing part of Will’s life ever since. If you’re driving by a stadium or baseball field and hear a public address announcer with a booming, crystal clear voice, chances are it’s Will — working for free, of course. He’s also been known to belt out the national anthem before a sporting event, and he can sing any of the four stanzas!

Will’s talents and congenial personality led him to a job that allowed him to pursue his passion for sports and make a living at the same time. He became a local sports reporter, working for the Reedley Exponent from November of 1977 until August of 1986 then moving on to the Selma Enterprise until July of last year. Will is currently the editor of The Parlier Post and the Orange Cove and Mountain Times.

Besides his accomplishments as one of the best sports writers in the Valley, Will has also been the radio voice of the Reedley College Tiger Football team since the early 1970s, first teaming with the legendary Jim Bailey until 1994 and then yours truly from 1995 to the present.

Reedley College Tigers

That’s Will Goldbeck’s life and career in a nutshell, but it only tells half the story. What most people don’t know about him is his incredible generosity when it comes to being a mentor to underprivileged children and kids from single-parent households. Will has spent countless hours and a lot of money taking kids to Major League Baseball games and tourist attractions. Why? “I looked for kids who had not been to a major league game before and, on the trip, tried to encourage them to start looking for a future career and tried to stress that sports was not really an option,” says Will.

One such kid and a favorite of Will’s is one of the best athletes the valley has produced, Joey Xavier of Selma. “Joey’s aunt was Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox’s first wife. Joe always took a loss or strikeout hard and I started writing poems for him. It ended up being 45 different poems. A few years after he was out of Little League, his dad died of a heart attack on Christmas morning. Joe went on to set records with the Fresno State Bulldogs baseball team and nearly became the first ever major leaguer with a last name that starts with an X. I researched that many years ago and Baseball America did the ‘X watch’ about Joe, who is now coaching his youngest son in Selma Babe Ruth, the league which I am an officer for.”

The great athletes Will has seen come through our local sports programs is one of his favorite topics. Will’s top five best of the best? “Number one, Olympic softball player Andrea Duran. I think it was my idea to name Selma High’s softball field Duran Diamond, even though she is only 26 years old. Number two, Jaime Cerda, who pitched with the Mets, Royals and Rockies. Number three, Joe Xavier. Number four, Todd Santos, who held the NCAA career passing record for awhile and number five, Lloyd Allen, who pitched in the ’70s in major league baseball and was a first round draft choice of the Angels in 1968.”

Will Goldbeck is the ultimate multitasker. I’ve seen him write an article about a football game, keep stats for the game and take pictures of that game — all at the same time! Ask any area coach about Will and the verdict is unanimous; he’s loyal, dedicated and great at what he does. He’s also a member of the Reedley College Athletic Hall of Fame and was a member of the inaugural class of the Selma Athletic Hall of Fame. He’s made a career out of writing about sports and announcing sports yet his legacy will be not only the words he’s written and spoken but the countless lives he’s affected for the better, through his generosity, kindness and willingness to do anything he can to help. If there is ever a Hall of Fame for the really caring and generous amongst us, Will is a first ballot member. I am proud to call him a friend.

You can hear Will in action this coming season as a commentator once again for Reedley College’s Tiger Football webcasts.

Kings River Life Magazine will be featuring exclusive interviews with Reedley College football coaches beginning in September as well as recaps of each game on the following Monday nights.

Larry Ham is an ongoing contributor to our
Everything Education section, having covered many an area school game through the years.


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