USA Today Sports/Pomeranz family

The legend of Gob: How Drew Pomeranz was molded by Tris Speaker's buddy

Rob Bradford
September 19, 2017 - 12:18 pm

BALTIMORE -- Mike Pomeranz was just 12 or 13 years old when his grandfather invited him to go fishing. On their way home, the two stopped by some old baseball buddies of his mom's dad. Suddenly, the success on the lake in Northern Wisconsin was of little consequence.

"Those guys could tell some stories," he remembered.

Those stories meant something, as did all of the lessons Pomeranz learned from Garland "Gob" Buckeye. Why? Because many of them have helped make the pitcher the Red Sox are relying on to help make a postseason run -- his son, Drew.

Buckeye wasn't just a well-meaning grandfather to Mike. He just so happened to represent one of the most unique athletic existences ever found. When you've given up home runs to Babe Ruth, played offensive guard in the National Football League and hung around with the likes of Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb and Casey Stengel (the best man in his wedding) then you might have some tales to tell.

"I would always hear these stories growing up," said Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz. "At the time I didn't really understand what it was. We just had all these pictures and stories and stuff."

Appreciating the photos of Buckeye hanging with baseball immortals was one thing. Soaking in the lessons that had been passed down three generations was another.

Hearing the manner in which the Wabash College alum approached playing sports shouldn't come as a surprise. This was a guy who served as an offensive lineman for three years in between two stints as a big league pitcher. Buckeye -- a southpaw, like his grandson -- would go on to throw in 108 major league games, mostly with the Cleveland Indians. In 1927, the year he gave up two homers to Ruth in one game, the stocky hurler went 10-17 with a 3.96 ERA in 204 2/3 innings.

Buckeye's legacy stretched well beyond his success as a pitcher, however. He was John Hannah on a baseball mound.

"That's kind of who taught my dad and uncle baseball, that old school thinking and it was passed down," Drew Pomeranz said. "That F-U mentality. It was the biggest thing my dad passed down to me and my brother, shove it up your [butt] kind of things. You say something bad to [Buckeye] and he would just punch you in the face."

"He came from that era where everybody was tougher," Mike Pomeranz remembered. "He was a tough guy. He didn't back down from anybody. I guess the main thing he told me was, 'That plate belongs to you. It doesn't belong to them. You just try and hit this ball off of me.' That kind of attitude."

While Pomeranz's demeanor when pitching often appears somewhat stoic, knowing the back-story and the upbringing, one can start to realize a hidden competiveness. It was at least partly born by the lessons passed down the family tree, and then brought out once Drew's chance to follow in his great-grandfather's footsteps came calling.

"I think I tried to do that with him and his brother," said Mike Pomeranz regarding the message relayed by Gob. "They had to go up there and take their part of the plate. Drew is obviously very competitive. You see when people get on base it doesn't really rattle him. He seems to wiggle his way out of stuff, but he's been doing that his whole life."

"There are definitely some stories out from him out there," Drew added.

Now, Pomeranz is planning to craft a few of his own.

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