Twenty years ago, Casey Stengel, then manager of the New York Mets, introduced his catcher to the press.
"This is Goossen," he said in a bit of classic Stengelese. "He's 19 years old and he's got a good chance to be 29 in 10 years."
Today, at 39, Greg Goossen has switched sports. He's involved in boxing, in a venture with his huge family that has a chance to be a real force in the sport.
In an age when supermarket chains have reduced mom-and-pop stores to oddities and agricultural empires have reduced many small farmers to bankruptcy, the Goossens are trying to strike a blow, actually a lot of blows, for the little guy.
Ten Goose Boxing is a mom-and-pop-and-the-kids operation, "All in the Family" goes to the fights. It's an operation that includes finding the fighters, finding them fights, doing the training, signing the contracts and planning the boxers' careers.
Ten Goose Boxing is:
--Al, the 69-year-old patriarch of the family. The senior Goossen spent 16 years with the Los Angeles Police Department before retiring to go into private security work. He now heads Al Goossen Investigations ($50 an hour, 50 a mile plus expenses) after a career that involved a role in the Black Dahlia murder of the 1940s, the Caryl Chessman case in the '50s and the pursuit of various Mafia figures over the years. When Goossen fighter Michael Nunn heads a March 26th card at Reseda's Country Club, Al will serve as the promoter.
--Dan, 35. He is president of Ten Goose, the man who manages the fighters, negotiates the purses, does most of the promoting, the public relations work, the financial work and anything else that might otherwise fall between the cracks. He also holds down a job as a phone salesman, as do several of his brothers. Nobody in the family can yet afford to work solely for Ten Goose which, Dan said, is only now about to start showing a small profit.
--Joe, 31, and Greg. They are the trainers, the men who put the fighters through their daily workouts, give them a kick in the pants or a pat on the back, or both, and work their corners during the fights.
--Pat, 42. The only one of the Goossens to fight professionally (he was 7-1 as a welterweight), Pat worked for Ten Goose as a trainer, but is now devoting himself to his son, Erick, first of the next generation of Goossens in boxing. Erick, 18, is a featherweight who has won three of his first four professional fights and got a draw in the other.
--Mike and Larry, the 34-year-old twins. Mike is an attorney (with the slogan, "We fight to the finish") and handles all legal matters for Ten Goose. There have already been a few. Dan, charging "breach of contract and fraud," is suing Mr. T., the actor, for $16 million. Larry is referred to as the trouble-shooter. He fills in for his brothers wherever he is needed, in the gym or at the arena.
--Tommy, 29. The youngest son, he is not involved directly in Ten Goose Boxing, but provides an important element. He owns the land on which the Ten Goose gym sits.
--Gordon, 44. Currently a salesman, he is spending his free time as a law student and hopes eventually to assist Mike in that aspect of the business.
--Mother Anna May and daughters Ellorie (43) and Sandi (26). They provide the cheers and emotional support at ringside.
Emotional support was a prime ingredient two years ago when the Goossens got started. All they had was a plot of open land next to a house Tommy owned on a North Hollywood cul-de-sac nestled next to the Hollywood Freeway. It was the site of some ferocious family whiffle-ball games.
At the time, Dan had just been given the ax by Lawrence Tereaud, known to the world as Mr. T. Goossen claimed he managed Tereaud from his days as a bar bouncer in Chicago to his breakthrough into the big money as co-star of Rocky III, with nothing more than a verbal agreement between the two. Then one day, according to Goossen, Tereaud called up and said, simply, "You're fired."
So much for working for someone else.
Dan Goossen knew a little about fighting. Brother Pat had fought as a professional. Brothers Joe, Greg and Larry had fought as amateurs. And Joe had spent a decade as a corner man for top welterweight contender Randy Shields.
"I asked my brothers if they'd be interested in starting our own boxing business," Dan said.
"I thought it was a great idea," Joe recalled. "I always knew if I was going to do something with my life, I wanted it to be in sports. So if we were going to be involved with gyms, why don't we build our own?"
That they did. At least, they built a ring, constructed under a tree on their old whiffle-ball field.
"The next thing we needed was a fighter," Dan said. "We just had a name and an idea. We had a ring. We had a heavy bag. But no fighters."
So they found one. Sort of. Dan remembers his name was Nacho or "something like that," worked at a nearby car wash and said he wanted to be a fighter.