One thing is clear. B.G. Gould is not a fan of air travel.
During a celebration that was equal parts roast and toast, the Medford sports ambassador was presented with the Southern Oregon Sports Commission’s Sports Advocate Award before a gathering of about 250 people Thursday at Santo Community Center.
The audience included a number of sports luminaries who shared stories about Gould dating to the early 1960s. Others sent well wishes via video or letters.
Gould has been involved in statistical and game-management work for the Medford School District since 1986. But his love of sports and ties to the community began well before that, and along the way, he’s made close friends in nearly every burg imaginable.
Former South Medford boys basketball coach and athletic director Dennis Murphy summed it up nicely while serving as the emcee of Gould’s portion of the program: Go anywhere in the U.S., mention Medford sports heroes such as Bill Bowerman, Dick Fosbury and Kyle Singler, and you might get blank stares. But bring up B.G. Gould, and you’re bound to spark a reaction,
“The guy’s a legend,” said Murphy.
So, too, are some of those who shared experiences: Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey, former Oregon State football head coach Mike Riley, Oregon radio announcer Jerry Allen and former Linfield football coach Ad Rutschman.
The list went on: Former South Medford basketball star and Oklahoma City Thunder player Kyle Singler, South Medford football coach Bill Singler, South Medford girls basketball coach Tom Cole, former Medford High athlete Scott Spiegelberg, Mail Tribune sports writer Kris Henry and Portland Tribune sports writer Kerry Eggers.
When Gould finally took the podium, he was overwhelmed.
“Wow,” he said. “How do you top all those accolades and special letters from special people in my life?”
Casey said Gould is like a brother to him, then issued a warning.
“Since you’re a brother,” said Casey, “we get to poke a little fun at you when you get honored like this. You gotta take a little ribbing once in a while, too.”
With that, there was no shortage of entertaining tales.
Including ones about flying.
In a letter, Allen recalled a 1983 plane trip to Lebanon to do a radio broadcast of a Medford High softball playoff game. Duke Anderson volunteered to take Allen and Gould in a small, single-engine Piper.
Just before the final approach, the flight got bumpy.
“I turned to ask Beeg how he was handling the rough air and noticed he couldn’t talk,” wrote Allen. “Then I realized his cheeks were puffed out like a chipmunk. He had gotten airsick and had already lost it but didn’t want to mess up Duke’s plane.”
Allen spent the next few minutes calming Gould. They landed, and he held on until disembarking.
Needless to say, Gould hitched a car ride home.
It wasn’t the first time Gould flew. That came in 1974, when Bill Singler’s father, Bill Sr., flew their two-seat Cessna to Stanford, where his son was a wide receiver. It was a spring getaway for a scrimmage.
Singler Jr. didn’t know they were coming, but when he saw Gould on the sideline, something didn’t look right.
“Gould was white as a ghost,” he said. “I said, ‘What the hell’s wrong with you?’”
Gould called Papa Singler “Euell,” for his outdoorsy nature and after Euell Gibbons.
He answered, “Sing, you’re not gonna believe this.”
“We were flying,” said Gould, “and all of a sudden I see this 747 coming right at us. And just after I said, ‘Euell, I think that’s a 747,’ on the radio comes, ‘Cherokee 659, you need to make an immediate left and get out of restricted air space.’”
That, said Bill Singler, is why Gould prefers ground travel.
Even that can become a challenge because Gould doesn’t drive.
When Murphy asked who in the crowd had given Gould a ride over the years, a forest of hands went up.
More than one out-of-area coach said they didn’t know how Gould got to their games, but he was at a lot of them. He shared their homes as well as their sidelines and dugouts.
Gould and another baseball enthusiast stayed at Casey’s house one time. Casey woke up in the middle of the night to a spirited discussion in the front room.
“I go out there, and they’ve got ‘Gilligan’s Island’ on and they’re yakking at one another pretty spiritedly,” he said.
Casey asked what was going on.
“‘Ah,’” said Gould, as Casey recounted, “‘he’s trying to tell me the guy can advance on the infield fly rule on his own.’ I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me. It’s 2 in the morning and you guys are watching Gilligan’s Island and fighting about the infield fly rule?’ Only you, Beeg.”
Rutschman indicated Gould’s timeline was sometimes skewed. Gould was to spend a couple nights with a family up north, but the hosts were going on a trip and would only be there the first night. He could stay the second night, but needed to lock up when he left.
“Five days later,” said Rutschman, “they got a phone call from Beeg, and he says, ‘The refrigerator is empty.’”
Rutschman called Gould the Southern Oregon Wildcat, after the Linfield mascot.
When the coach visited Medford to recruit, he’d find Gould waiting at his hotel room.
“I don’t know how he found those things out,” said Rutschman, “but there he would be.”
Gould likes winners and might be considered a front-runner, said Singler.
Gould was an Oregon football equipment manager when Stanford visited Autzen Stadium in 1974. Each time Singler lined up, Gould, donning the Duck colors and on their sideline, would give him the business.
“‘Oh Sing,’” Singler remembered, “‘you’re not gonna catch a ball. Sing, we’re gonna beat you guys.’”
In the third quarter, Singler caught a touchdown pass, helping Stanford to victory. When his team ran off the field, Gould followed.
“He gets into our locker room, takes his rain jacket off, takes his Oregon sweatshirt off and what does he have underneath?” said Singler, his voice rising. “A Stanford red T-shirt! And he goes, ‘Sing, I always knew you guys were going to win.’”
Gould was a winner, too.
Spiegelberg recalled watching Gould in 3-on-3 basketball in PE. Back then, Gould went by his given name, Bill.
“Bill had some really wonderful teammates who led the nation in assists because they never shot,” said Spiegelberg. “Beeg was the shooter.”
Spiegelberg and his friends started chanting, “B.G., B.G,” he said, and that’s when Gould received the handle he goes by now.
Henry has been with the Mail Tribune for 20 years. He’s seen a lot of sporting events with you-know-who.
“Quite honestly, I’ve probably spent more nights with Beeg than my wife,” he said. “Thankfully, she’s not the jealous type, and no, I’ve not confused one with the other.”
There was toasting with the roasting, of course.
Riley wrote in, “You have brought so much happiness to everyone you are around. You care about people and everyone cares about you. You hold a unique, special place in our hearts, and that comes from people everywhere.”
Rutschman said qualities such as loyalty and a positive attitude characterize Gould.
Henry cited Gould’s value as a source of information to media and called him a one-man welcoming committee.
“He puts out the best we have to offer on a daily basis,” said Henry.
— Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.