A little piece of all of those games made it to Cooperstown last week. If only those high school baseball players in the hottest rivalry in Shrewsbury, Mass., had known.
Even amateur umpire Ray Gouley didn't completely realize the history he carried with him when he worked high school and college games in Central Massachusetts. He knew the jacket he wore on chilly days, the one with the "20" on the sleeve, once belonged to former major league umpire Ed Vargo.
But it was only recently that Vargo, who befriended Gouley 20 years ago when Gouley was an aspiring minor league ump, filled in the details of the coat he had given his friend.
Vargo wore the coat behind the plate Sept. 9, 1965, when Koufax retired all 27 batters against the Chicago Cubs. He also wore it April 4, 1974, when Aaron homered against Jack Billingham at Cincinnati to tie Babe Ruth's record and again at Pittsburgh on Oct. 13, 1971, when the era of all day games in the World Series ended.
Gouley, who would cover the coat's National League logo with that of the local group he was working for, stopped wearing it as soon as he realized its historic value and last week donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
"What Ray is doing is very generous and genuine," says Jeff Idelson, vice president of communications and education at the museum. "He could have kept this. He could have sold it. As a non-profit museum, we rely on the donations of teams, players and fans."
"(Vargo) showed us how to umpire and how to conduct ourselves on and off the field," Gouley says. "That's what inspired me to donate this."
Vargo, 76, who worked four World Series and four All-Star Games, lives in Butler, Pa., and still critiques tapes of Gouley's games and they talk regularly.
"He was a good kid," says Vargo, who took Gouley under his wing after seeing the 20-year-old at a clinic in 1986.