Goggin was a young minor-leaguer in the Dodgers organization in the mid-1960s. He was concerned about the military draft considering the ongoing Vietnam conflict, and tried to enlist in the Army Reserves as a way to both serve his country and continue playing the game he loved. The Army looked at his baseball-induced knee injury and classified him as 4-F, or unfit to serve, due to his torn cartilage. Goggin returned to the minors and completed his season.
It came as a significant surprise when Goggin was drafted by the Marine Corps, without explanation, after the season ended. Goggin left the game behind, underwent basic training, and was shipped to Vietnam. Goggin served as an infantry rifleman and experienced many days of combat. His 13-month tour ended when an exploding landmine catapulted him 10 feet into the air and sprayed his back and legs with fiery shrapnel. It was a miracle that he lived; he recuperated and fulfilled the remainder of his 2-year service obligation.
In spite of his painful injuries, his bum knee, and his time away, Goggin still wanted to play pro baseball. Goggin had a solid minor league year, then went to a winter league and learned to switch hit. His batting average sky-rocketed, and he seemed certain to make the big-league roster until he suffered a severe ankle break sliding into 2nd base.
A lesser man would have quit. Goggin persevered. Nevertheless, the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates organization. Goggin, who had never played catcher before, volunteered to put on the tools and squat behind the plate. The move impressed management and increased his value as a utility player. After several additional solid seasons in the minors in which he played at least 5 positions with competence, he finally made it to the majors.
He had success in his limited appearances, but bounced around to several different teams until he ruptured a disc in his back. Stacked atop his other injuries, this was the final straw. He coached and managed for several seasons until he returned to the service of his country as a U.S. Marshal, appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
“All I ever wanted to do is be a major-league baseball player,” he said. Injuries and the jungles of Vietnam and circumstance kept him from being the player he aspired to be, but in his struggles he gained a deeper appreciation for the game and for life. He may not be a star baseball hero but he is a great man.
From September 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com