When former Brookfield Laker Tom Goral got the call that he was being inducted into the Land O' Lakes Hall of Fame in June, his reaction was typical of the low-key former All-Star catcher and manager.
"It was a little bit of shock," he said. "It is not something I expected. It's not what we play for. I played for the love of the game, my teammates and the experience. Most of time, those were the memories.
"When I got the call from Bill (Majeskie, Bulldogs board of director) saying I was being considered, it was not on my radar, not in my conscience. It still hasn't sunk in.
"When I thought about the teams, the people, I think that was the emotion that the first came and continued after that."
Goral began playing with the then-Brookfield Lakers (now Bulldogs) following a successful career at Brookfield East, Winona State and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During his Lakers career, he was a catcher, assistant manager and player/manager.
A solid defensive catcher, a leader on the field and a clutch hitter at the plate, Goral was elected to three All-Star Teams (1973, 1975 and 1977) and to the All-League Team in 1977.
He was named Brookfield's MVP in 1975 when he batted .353 and in 1977 when he hit .356.
He began his player/manager career in 1978 and in 1980 he was named the Eastern Division All-Star manager, and Brookfield won the co-championship of the Eastern Division.
Two years later, he was a member of the Brookfield Lakers team which not only won the Eastern Division, but the Grand Championship (all four divisions) as well.
Goral decided to retire after that 1982 season.
"A lot of us that were playing had dreams of going beyond after finishing up (college)," Goral said. "But I realized the window had closed for me. I loved baseball and I wanted to be involved."
Goral, who taught and coached football at Brookfield East when the Spartans won the Braveland, as well as at Greenfield and Wauwatosa West, was also the head baseball coach at Brookfield East for three years and he won a conference title.
Goral compared the strategy in football coaching to catching.
"The strategy, the setting up hitters, calling a solid game, playing well defensively …" he said. "When I could help out hitting wise, that was great. But the strategic part of the game was helping the pitcher.
"What was happening within the game is what created the strategies, the fun part of the game for me. Most people look at stats - hitting, RBIs, homers. I loved the defensive part of the game."
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