In 1989, the Warren County Pioneer baseball team went undefeated in regular season district games and won the district championship led by pitcher Jerry “Gooby” Martin.
The Pioneers did lose a game in the district tournament, but they came back by winning two games to make it out of the loser’s bracket to the championship, which they then won. Martin says this is one of his proudest moments as a Pioneer.
Martin is being inducted into the Warren County Sports Hall of Fame for his efforts as a pitcher with the Pioneers, his journey through minor league baseball, and his work as a softball coach.
Martin grew up playing baseball and basketball. “I love competing,” Gooby said, “and it was a way to be with my friends.”
He loves both sports but sees them differently. He says basketball is more of a team sport, but when he was pitching, it was just him and the batter. “We’re going head to head, and I like that challenge.”
After being recognized as an all-district and all-region player in high school, he attended Southwest Community College. Another proud moment he alluded to was his work in the Florida State League.
Gooby pitched eight innings of the Port Charlotte Rangers’ first ever no-hitter in team history. It’s an incredible feat for pitchers to achieve a game with no hits, and Martin was excited to have that to his name.
He said, “My fastest pitch, I probably clocked in around 93 mph.”
In 1994, Martin also made the roster for the Major Leagues after being drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1991. “Being named to the roster for the Major Leagues is one of my favorite memories.”
Gooby played in the minor leagues until 1997.
He reintroduced himself to Warren County athletics by becoming an assistant coach on the high school baseball team in 2006 where he stayed until 2010. His daughter started middle school that year and the softball team needed a coach, so Martin became the head coach of the WCMS softball team.
In 2015, he became the head coach for the high school softball team and has enjoyed great success. Among his accomplishments, he led the team to its first regional tournament championship in 2019 and was one win from reaching the state tournament.
“I think softball is a faster game,” he said comparing it to baseball, “It requires quicker thinking as a coach.” Martin loves coaching and wants to continue his work. “I want to help student-athletes as much as I can.”
Gooby thinks we have the talent in Warren County to produce professional players, but he wants the young athletes to know it isn’t easy. It takes a love of the sport and considerable work.
Martin will be inducted Aug. 27 to the Hall of Fame at the WCHS home football game against White County.