Calling last week’s sudden transaction “the furthest thing from my mind,” San Marino native Jim Gott was named bullpen coach of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gott has been the Los Angeles Angels’ Minor League pitching coordinator for the past five years and figured he had found a comfortable groove.
“I thought if I could so this for the next ten years I would be very happy,” Gott said, a 1977 graduate of San Marino High School and 14-year veteran of the Major Leagues, where he pitched for Toronto, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and, finally, his beloved hometown Dodgers. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get back to the big leagues. I figured I had already been so blessed to have been there for a long time.”
Gott retired 1995, then spent three seasons co-hosting the Dodger Talk pre and post-game radio show. He then hosted the in-house Coca Cola Challenge, roaming Dodger Stadium between innings and asking trivia questions of eager fans.
In 2010, Gott sent a resumé to former Dodger General Manager Fred Claire, who hooked Gott up with the Angels’ minor league position, which has meant long, hot days (and nights) in Arizona for what is commonly referred to as “the Fire League” due to the high temperatures during summer.
There, Gott has worked with just about every young pitcher in the Angels’ system at one time or another.
“That has really prepared me for what I am going to do now,” Gott said. “I watched over and managed all the pitchers and 12 minor league pitching coaches. We have to develop and carry out a plan for each player. It has been very interesting.”
Gott gave a tip of the cap to his wife, Cathy, who has for years operated an organization called Education Spectrum, a Pasadena-based company that helps plan out strategies for those on the autism spectrum. During his Dodger days, Gott helped Cathy out at the office.
“That really helped me out,” Gott said, with extreme emphasis on the word “really.” “When working with the special needs community, there is a constant stream of reports stating goals and objectives. We had to come up with measurable goals and then when those goals were met, we had to determine another set of goals. That is very similar to what we are doing with young pitchers. Providing them with a set of goals and objectives. In baseball, it can be a very slow progress.”
Gott’s hiring was “a whirlwind,” in the big right hander’s words. Just six days from when the Phillies asked for permission to negotiate until Gott signed a two-year contract last Thursday.
“It was really great,” the relentlessly positive Gott said. “The Phillies were looking for someone wit big league experience. Personally, I think it is a good fit because we have one of the youngest pitching staffs in the majors and that is precisely the group I have been working with.”
Gott, who recently turned 58, said the game has changed “drastically” since he started with the Blue Jays.
“When I was coming up, I didn’t even have a pitching coach until I reached the AA level. Now we have two on every team. The amount of analytics that are out there now,” he said. “You have every bit of information: A bitter’s tendencies, what he will swing at. You might even have a video of his most recent at-bats. We use it all to formulate a plan against the other team’s lineup.”
Gott also said improvements in biomechanics “assures that every pitcher can be his best athletic self and use it in every situation in the game.”
But what Gott has most loved about his minor league gig was getting to know the human beings, not the number on the jersey.
“I care about these kids and I know what it takes to go out there,” he said. “I have always felt that my job was to help them through the tough times and the good times. That has been my favorite part of this job.
Jim thanked his father, former San Marino resident Van Gott, who now lives in Chandler, Arizona.
“He really pushed me to be my best,” Gott said. “I have a great relationship with him and he was so happy to hear that I was returning to the major leagues.”