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From Playing to Watching to Coaching: Baseball is a Way of Life
By shafere1 [at] chop.edu (Emily Shafer)
Wherever he goes, David Goldberg, MD, always tries to catch a ball game. He's a devoted Phillies fan, but first and foremost, he is simply a baseball fan. He used to play as a child but stopped when he was in middle school.
"One of my greatest regrets in life is stopping playing baseball," said Dr. Goldberg, an attending cardiologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "If I hadn't, I probably would have played third base for the Phillies."
He may not be on the field playing for the Phillies, but baseball is still a big part of his life. He's been a Phillies fan since the team won the World Series in 1980, but he goes to as many games as he can, even those of different teams. He's been to about 10 stadiums, most recently to Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs game.
"The Cubs stadium is very old — though recently refurbished — and has a great historic feel," Dr. Goldberg said. "The atmosphere was very festive, and it was just the way baseball should be played."
When his family resided in central New Jersey, he was surrounded by fans of the New York teams, but still listened to Phillies games on the radio. When he went to college in Massachusetts, he had a Phillies "shrine" in his dorm room. He met other Phillies fans at college, and they often watched the games together. His dedication to listening to the games continued throughout medical school back in New Jersey, and when he went to New Haven, Connecticut for residency.
In addition to watching baseball games, Dr. Goldberg is also a baseball coach. He started coaching baseball while he was in medical school when a neighboring family had a son who played the game. Though he stopped coaching when he moved on to residency and fellowship, he put his coach's hat back on when his son became old enough to play. He now coaches a community baseball team in Philadelphia and is also part of the league's board.
"Community baseball, as a national trend, is shrinking, unfortunately," Dr. Goldberg said. "But our league has grown from 400 kids when I first became involved to over 700 kids this year. The league comprises an incredibly diverse group of children from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Philadelphia is such a diverse city and having this baseball league helps brings everyone together."
During the pandemic, a friend wrote a piece for the local newspaper highlighting Dr. Goldberg's dedication to neighborhood baseball, and the impact he's had on the kids involved.
"I'm a pediatrician — I love working with kids, and this was a different way of working with kids that is rewarding for me," he said.
Baseball is a family affair. His son, Ben, is about to be a senior in high school, and plays for two different Philadelphia teams. His daughter, Sarah, doesn't play, but is still fluent in baseball and enjoys discussing the game. His wife, Jenny, is also a dedicated Phillies fan: Her first night away from her newborn daughter in 2008 was to go to one of the games when the Phillies were in the World Series — which they won, by the way.
At the Goldberg house, there is almost always a baseball game on TV. When the kids were younger, the family had a partial season ticket plan and used to go to about 20 games a year. Nowadays, they try to get to five or six games a year. The family also has a tradition of going to Clearwater, Florida, and catching a few games at spring training.
"Being a baseball fan is a lot of fun, and it does come with many ups and downs," Dr. Goldberg said. "Sometimes, I wonder, 'Why do I care so much about baseball?' But it's really fun to be a part of the camaraderie of fans, and it helps create a connection to the city."