Woodburn great Tom Gorman knows a thing or two about the World Series


Gorman picks St. Louis to win it all

It’s World Series time, and despite the fact that NCAA football, NFL football and NBA basketball flood the airwaves, baseball is once again proving that it is America’s favorite sport.

Two of modern day baseball’s powerhouses are having at it in jam-packed ballparks with millions of fans all over the world glued to their television sets. It’s a painful reminder to me that I slept in on a Saturday morning when I had secured press box tickets to the 1953 World Series via a good friend who was on staff of the Armed Forces Press Service. That gaffe nearly ruined a good friendship. I digress.

Over the years, Woodburn has produced its share of baseball players who have made it to the major leagues. The short list I am aware of includes Dick Whitman and Bill Hanauska who had brief careers with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Bill Bevens, the New York Yankee star who lost a no hitter and a game when Cookie Lavagetto lined a double off the right field wall to rob Bevens of baseball immortality.

The longest major league career belongs to Tom Gorman, who spent five years in the majors with four different teams.

I had lunch with Gorman last week to get his views on the Boston Red Sox versus the

St. Louis Cardinals. He opined that Boston had very disciplined hitters that make opposing pitchers work more. A good example being game one when Jacoby Ellsbury coaxed a walk after looking at eight pitches.

Gorman thinks that may give Boston an advantage, but he’s rooting for the Cardinals, despite the fact that his personal ERA against the Cardinals was a healthy 9.00. As a former National Leaguer, Gorman doesn’t want the “junior league” to rule the World Series.

Gorman is doing just fine these days. He reps for a uniform company that does business with high schools, colleges and sandlot teams.

He and wife Peggy sold their home and bought a condo in Sherwood. He is an assistant baseball coach at Oregon City, which has won two state titles, and he is involved with some other players in a baseball school.

He chums around with ex-Blazer Bobby Gross and former San Francisco 49er Rick Camp, who has four NFL Super Bowl rings.

He’s enjoying life after a severe heart scare that required open heart surgery about two years ago. Daughters Taylor and Nicole and son T.J. are doing well.

When Gorman was plying his pitching skills at Woodburn High in the 1970s, he was primarily a fastball hurler who had great control of his pitches. He moved the ball up, down, inside, outside, but always in or near the strike zone.

He got his share of strikeouts, but ground outs and lazy fly balls were his stock in trade. By his own admission he didn’t have a good curve ball so he didn’t like to throw it.

When Gorman pitched WHS to the Class 2A state championship in 1977, the college recruiters came calling.

Oregon State coach Jack Riley offered a one-fourth ride, Linfield promised a half scholarship. Tommy opted for Gonzaga University, a good Catholic baseball school in Spokane, Wash., probably due to some strong urging from his devout Catholic parents, Tom and Harriett Gorman.

He made the Bulldog varsity in his freshman year and likes to tell the story that his locker was a “16 penny nail” just outside the door to the shower room. He was a walk on, but he had been impressive enough that he was given a locker for his sophomore year.

Gonzaga became a force in Northwest collegiate baseball and became an NCAA regional playoff contender. Gorman played a role in that rise.

He spent summers playing semi-pro baseball with a nationally ranked team. He developed a new pitch, a forkball. The forkball became his ticket to the major leagues.

He was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1981, assigned to a development league and quickly promoted to class Double A ball in Memphis, where he won the Rolaid “Relief” Pitcher of the Year award.

Montreal beckoned.

To throw a forkball, a pitcher needs big hands and long fingers. Gorman had both, and one of his first outings with Hall of Famer-to-be Gary Carter behind the plate, Gorman struck out four batters, didn’t allow a hit and didn’t walk anybody. Carter was unable to handle three of Gorman’s third-strike pitches, mixed in with a passed ball, so he gave up a run.

When he came to the dugout, manager Dick Williams asked what was the pitch he was throwing. Gorman told him it was his forkball. Williams said, “Keep throwing it, we’ll get somebody who can catch it.”

Despite that rocky beginning, Gorman and Carter became good friends in Montreal, and later, when both had been traded to the New York Mets.

Gorman’s major league career lasted five years and included brief stints with the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres. Arm problems cut short his career. He did qualify for the Major League Baseball players’ pension, which began providing him with a nifty monthly income at the age of 45.

Gorman doesn’t have a World Series ring, but he has some rich memories that keep him upbeat. Local service club program chairmen would do well to contact Gorman. He’s a regaling and entertaining story teller with a good story to tell.

As for me and the World Series, GO BOSTON and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Sorry Tommy.