Good guy Gobble will be missed

We reporters will miss Jimmy Gobble around the Royals’ clubhouse. He is, quite simply, just one great guy.

Anytime you had a question about pitching or darn near anything, you could approach Gobble and get a thoughtful, sincere, complete answer.

“Heck, I talked to you guys as much as I did my teammates,” he said just after being released the other day.

That might be an exaggeration but Gobble was one of those ballplayers who’s a good friend as well as a subject to be covered. I remember years ago when I talked long distance to his mother out there in Bristol, Va., about “little Jimmy” in his childhood and she was the most lovely, sincere person you could ever talk to – plus, she was a real hoot. And his father was a real friendly and gracious gentleman whenever I chatted with him.

Jimmy’s a devoted family man with wife Julie and sons Porter and Palmer. He loves to talk about his kids.

The release caught him completely by surprise. He thought he’d be on the club. Sure, he had a bad year in 2008 but he worked very hard over the winter and was pitching pretty well this spring.

“I thought so, too,” Jimmy said. “Other than that first outing which, I mean heck, wasn’t too terrible or anything. I hadn’t walked anybody. I told Julie, ‘I feel like this is the best I’ve been throwing any time in Spring Training.’ But that’s part of it.”

Looking back on his six years with the Royals, I asked for a special memory.

“Probably July Fourth (2006),” he said. “I pitched against the Twins and I think they’d won like 12 straight games. I’d just been put into the starting rotation and the next day Porter was born. Those two days were probably the most special because I got to pitch against a team that was really hot. I beat ’em and handled ’em pretty good. That was kind of the peak of really feeling good.”

Those Twins had won 11 straight actually and 19 of 20 before Jimmy and the Royals stopped ’em, 7-2. And then his first child arrived the next day.

Typically, he left the Royals without rancor.

“I wish everyone the best,” he said. “It’s just one of those things. You’ve just go to roll with the punches and let bygones be bygones.”

Jimmy had been in the Royals’ organization since 1999 and was coming up on his seventh year in the Majors. He was really at home with the Royals.

“You get comfortable, you adapt to the situation, you just know what to expect,” he said.

Almost.

–Dick Kaegel

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