Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harold Gould, former Negro Leagues player, dies at age 88

PBR - Harold Gould had every reason to be bitter about never having the opportunity to play in the major leagues. A light-skinned African American, the St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics showed interest in signing him in the mid-1940s until they realized he was black.
 
Gould, one of the last remaining Negro players with ties to the Philadelphia area, passed away on Friday morning at the age of 88.  
 
The right-hander won 19 games over two seasons with the Philadelphia Stars in the late 1940s, including an impressive rookie campaign with 14 victories. Strong and hard throwing, Gould opposed such Negro legends as Satchel Paige and Buck Leonard.
 
Gould's time with the Stars ended when he was drafted for military service and sent to Korea prior to the 1950 season.
 
"After Jackie Robinson started playing for the Dodgers you could see our attendance go down," Gould told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2010. "By 1950, it was all over."
 
Gould  was often involved in various ceremonial events with the Phillies honoring the Negro leagues and Robinson. Through his work around the club he developed relationships with shortstop Jimmy Rollins, first baseman Ryan Howard and former hitting coach Milt Thompson.
 
Born and raised in Gouldtown, NJ., Gould became a welder at a young age and perfected his craft in the off-season, working on the shipping docks in Camden. He opened his own welding business after he returned from his military stint in Korea and later taught his son the trade.
 
Gould spent the last 15 years around the race track, breeding and training thoroughbred horses.
 
"As a baseball player, he will not be remembered so much for the color of his skin but how he played the game and the content of his character," Harry Gould Jr told the South Jersey Times. "He’s been called bad things but it never ignited a fight or rage in him. But it ignited him to play better. People will remember my father as a low key, high-class quality man."
 
Gould was elected to the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 1994 and the South Jersey Hall of Fame in 2001. He was named one of Cumberland County’s “People of the Century” in 1999 and was named to the county’s Black Hall of Fame in 2009.
 
Services for Gould will be held at the Sray Webster Funeral in Bridgeton, NJ., on Friday evening and Saturday morning.
 
"He was a mentor and model to all, and he accepted you for who you were,” Gould Jr. said. "A lot of people looked up to him. He will sadly be missed and never forgotten."
 
- Patrick Gordon is the editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review. Contact him at pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com or @Philabaseball on Twitter.

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