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Paul Goldschmidt: The Golden Rule

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When Jim approached the writing staff asking for contributions to a Paul Goldschmidt series, I knew it would be all too routine to draft an analytics driven article about him. You have seen, and will continue to read, plenty of opines that feature statistics to show you how he is an elite player. We knew that in Arizona just by watching him daily, so I wanted to take a different direction and discuss Paul Goldschmidt outside the baselines. I wanted to give my appreciation of him a different type of justice. Less publicized were his charitable contributions to the Phoenix community and personal, fan experiences with him. I reached out the the fanbase asking for interactions with Goldy, and the overwhelming consensus is that his character off the field far outshines the player. Not an easy feat considering the caliber of player he is.

What separates Goldschmidt from others is that his acts of benevolence went largely unnoticed by those outside of Arizona, and he never sought attention for his kindness. It’s just the type of person he is. Every interaction with him never left you feeling as if you were a burden to his day. Cameras on or not he was always going to treat others with respect.

Goldy’s Fund 4 Kids & Goldy’s Bowling Bash

Together with his wife, Amy, Paul has focused efforts towards the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. They began volunteering there even before his first full season in a Diamondbacks uniform, and his rise to stardom aided their charitable efforts towards the organization significantly. In 2014, Paul and Amy designed a “bleacher creature” stuffed doll of Goldy’s likeness. They were sold for $44 apiece with proceeds donated to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The first time he sought the aid of the media, strictly to boost fundraising efforts, was before his first Goldy’s Bowling Bash at Lucky Strike in Downtown Phoenix in 2016. The event wasn’t isolated to local athletes and teammates only. Division rivals Clayton Kershaw, Nolan Arenado, and Buster Posey have participated in the event, as well as former Arizona Diamondbacks such as Justin Upton. In 2017, his charity donated $186,121.94 to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital from funds raised during the event, and obvious indicator of the program’s success.

“On any given day, you can see them in the halls of the hospital,” she said. “Paul talking baseball and signing autographs for his biggest and littlest fans and Amy hosting self-esteem pink parties for girls, patient birthday party celebrations or just doing girl stuff, like painting nails.” Kelly Lane, Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation 2017

Fan Interactions

“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

I’m going steal a page out of Makakilo’s book and reference a quote which I feel describes Goldy perfectly, and the above came to mind instantly. I solicited your personal interactions with Paul Goldschmidt. I had no intentions on censoring the responses to craft the story that I wanted to tell about him, but your replies quickly indicated that wouldn’t be necessary. It turns out that you all felt the same way about Paul as I do had you the fortune to interact with him personally. Quite simply, you walked away from your meeting with him feeling more important than before you had met him.

A few years into Paul’s career, the D’backs had a Paul Goldschmidt bobblehead day. Nothing unique or substantial about that as many players well below his caliber have their own bobblehead days. But what made this day unique for me and my family is that it just so happened to be my mother’s birthday. It was also the case that a select few of the bobbleheads were issued in limited edition gold, so it was naturally fitting that when my mom opened her box she found one of the few all gold editions. Pretty fricking sweet, and as any perfect son would do I decided to have it autographed for her by Paul. It’s hardly left the packaging at all until I took it down to Salt River Fields during Spring Training in 2017 for his John Hancock.

The signature on the baseball is not Paul’s, but from a nearly 7 foot Hall of Fame pitcher obtained the same day.

I was extremely nervous that day considering how important the item was to my mother. I nearly dropped it pulling it out of the box! In my moment of anxiety driven awkwardness, I sheepishly wished him luck during the upcoming season not expecting a response. He paused in the middle of signing, looked me dead in the eye, smiled and said, “Thank you for all of your support.” Some of you reading this might be saying big whoop, and it was probably reflexive for him, but it was meaningful to me. His response made me feel that my fandom surrounding him fueled his play. Your stories demonstrate to me that I was not alone in this feeling.

“In September 2015 I took my then 12-yr old twins on a 4-day 4-park baseball trip which included Dbacks at Cubs. We were at batting practice and our seats were right outside the Dbacks dugout down the 1b line. As players were doing their final stretching right in front of us, Goldy was signing autographs. He and his wife had just had their son. I asked him how everybody was doing at home and he made eye contact with me and gave me a heartfelt, “Everybody is great. Thank you!” And as he signed baseballs for my boys I said, “In about 12 years you will understand just how cool a moment like this is.” He looked me in the eye for what felt like 10 seconds, smiled and said, “I sure hope so...thanks.” Cool exchange.” Gary Weiss

“I remember a time at fanfest, the line for his signature was so long, but it seemed to never bother him, sitting out for hours on end to make a kids day, when I went up to him, I asked him a special way to sign the ball I had, he looked at me smiled and signed it without hesitation, “USA first-baseman Paul Goldschmidt”. He didnt have to do that but he did. Another time, it was when the first 4th of July jerseys were out, I was lucky enough to nab one, and when I brought it to him one day, he smiled again and said “you know this is my favorite jersey we have and it’s the very first one of the type that I’ve signed.” That was so cool, and this was after his first MVP runner up year I think.” Chris Hollowell

“I had field passes for mine & my best friend Mark’s birthdays a few years ago. Instead of getting a pic with Paul, I chose a random act of kindness for someone else. While in college, I had a job as a teacher’s assistant in a 3rd grade class & befriended a young man named Alec. So...I had printed out a really good action shot of 8x10”, & told Paul all about Alec & what a big fan he is of him. Paul took the time to personalize the photo & told me to give Alec a message for him. That next day I contacted Alec via text & told him I had something special for him. His mom invited me to lunch the following weekend & we met up at Peter Piper. I presented Alec with this signed, beautifully framed picture & told Alec that Goldy had told me to tell him to keep up the great job in school (Alec is a straight A honor student...still is). This present brought happy tears to not only Alec, but to me, his mom, & grandmother who was also with is for our lunch date. I’m glad I could make another Goldy fan smile.” April Addington

“I met him in the lobby of the team hotel in SF after a tough loss in 2016. It was waaaaay late in the night and he walked in later than the rest of the team, and already in street clothes. He was with his wife and baby, but he still took a moment to sign an autograph for my teenage snake-son even though I was yelling GOLDYYYYYY as if I was a small child who had just met Santa!!!!!” The Brute Squad

It’s because of the generosity of ISH and his family that I can share this sentiment. I had the privilege to join ISH and his family in the aforementioned dugout suite during the 2018 season, and it was before that game where Goldy signed two jerseys for my girlfriend and I. It’s one of my most prized possessions and is framed in my office with other D’backs memorabilia. This is also where the infamous #SkepticalGoldy meme was born. Mrs. SnakePit snapped the picture of Goldy while he was signing for us. Despite what the picture suggests, he did not appear to be remotely bothered by our requests, but rather he was caught with an awkward facial expression!

The next story comes from my good friend Frank Benavidez. You might be familiar with his Instagram page, dbackdays. Frank is an Air Force Veteran who is known by D’backs fans for his generosity and random giveaways of autographed memorabilia. In a sense, Paul Goldschmidt was the perfect player for Frank to interact with because of his willingness to sign autographs and the similarities between the two men and their selfless acts of kindness.

“Just how easy going he was. At batting practice I asked him a question about his batting gloves and he went into detail about them and his favorite pairs. He didn’t just do the “thanks man” answer. But the biggest thing was that Goldy signed before every game at the same spot, so everyone knew if you wanted his signature you had to get there, and he would sign. Just a class act and did so much for this state without the cameras there.” Frank Benavidez

The Perfect Teammate

The high standard he set unsurprisingly carried over into the clubhouse with his teammates. He never laid blame on a teammate or coach after a tough loss, and there were plenty of opportunities to do so as the D’backs were 537-555 (.491 win percentage) in games he appeared in. In postgame interviews, it was always a collective team effort that was the deciding factor in Paul’s eyes. The D’backs won and lost as a team in his responses, and he was always quick to put the most recent game in the past to remain focused on one game at a time. Sure, there were a few times some of us would have liked to see him get upset and vocal, but it’s just not the type of leader he was. Looking back on his time in the desert, it’s refreshing that a player of his caliber did not command the spotlight towards himself. Paul quietly went about his business as best he could.

“He’s Jesus Christ in a baseball uniform,” says Mark Grace, a three-time All-Star first baseman. “He’s everything you want in a baseball player. We know what a special, not only player, but a human being this guy is. He’s not in a major market like New York or Chicago, L.A. or Boston, so he does get overlooked.”

“I’m glad that I’ve gotten a chance to sit in the dugout with him; I’m honored when I get to sit in the dugout with him,” Torey Lovullo added. “I’m next to him and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe that this guy’s actually talking to me,’ he’s this good.”

Lest We Forget

The comments above indicate the true reason it’s so painful watching Paul Goldschmidt leave the Valley. Goldy was a foundational player that a relatively young organization could build an identity around. He was the perfect role model for younger generations of fans, a person for parents and coaches to use as an example for children. His values almost certainly will not change because he puts on a new uniform next season, but rather it is Arizona that will feel the impact of his absence. It’s in this capacity where he differentiates himself from the two men who already have their numbers retired by the franchise. Paul lacks a World Series clinching blooper, and his case for the Hall of Fame will take another decade of strong performance to build, but he immortalized himself in our hearts in ways different than Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson. The smiles he brought to our faces with his own will never be forgotten. We will forever be able to share the stories of our personal interactions with him in a positive light. His acts of selflessness have undeniably left an impression on many young people to treat others how we ourselves would like to be treated.