Jan. 14, 2013
NOTE: This is the first in a four-part series on the 2013 inductees into the UT Arlington Athletic Hall of Honor.
By Michael Eldridge | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas – Clay Gould will be inducted into the UT Arlington Athletic Hall of Honor for his outstanding contributions to the UT Arlington baseball program. Gould tragically lost his battle with cancer at age 29 in 2001, but not before he forever left his indelible mark on Mavericks athletics.
The UT Arlington Athletics Hall of Honor induction ceremony is Friday, Jan. 18 at the Arlington Hilton Grand Ballroom. The 2013 Hall of Honor inductees are Gould, Pete Carlon, Mishael Berger, and the 1990 and 1992 Southland Conference Baseball Championship teams.
Gould is a local product, coming to UT Arlington from Arlington High School where he was an All-State third baseman. In his senior season, he batted an astounding .434 and was named MVP in District 7-5A. Gould was heavily recruited by several colleges, but decided to stay close to home and began his collegiate career with UT Arlington in 1989.
During his four years at UT Arlington, Gould helped lead his team to two Southland Conference championships and two berths in the NCAA Tournament. Gould was the first player in UTA history to earn SLC Player of the Year in 1993. He is also the only Mavericks baseball player to date to be nominated for the prestigious USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award, college baseball’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.
Gould’s dominance at the plate continued throughout his UTA career, as he batted .393 his senior season and posted a 26-game hit streak, the longest in program history. He tied a school record for most hits in a game (five) and also became one of only four Mavericks at the time to hit for the cycle in one game. Gould finished his time at UT Arlington among the all-time leaders in hits (181) and RBIs (116). Immediately following his collegiate career, Gould played two professional seasons with the Tyler Wildcatters of the Texas-Louisiana League (1994 and 1995) where he was a two-time selection to the league’s All-Star Team.
"In his senior year, he probably had the best offensive year out of anyone that I’ve ever coached," said John Mocek, former UTA assistant baseball coach and current senior associate athletic director for finance. "He hit .400 over the course of the whole season, had that big hitting streak, and just turned into one of the top college hitters in the country. He did that through a lot of hard work and dedication because Clay didn’t have just the natural God-given talent of an All-American-type baseball player but he made himself into it and of course that’s what led him right into coaching."
It was clear to all who knew Clay Gould that he could never leave the world of baseball. He joined his alma mater as a volunteer assistant in 1994 and 1995. While pursuing his masters degree at Texas A&M, Gould served as the graduate assistant for the Aggies baseball team in 1996. Gould was hired as the full-time assistant at UT Arlington and served under head coach Butch McBroom until his retirement in 1999. At 27, Gould was hired to replace him and became one of the youngest collegiate head coaches in the nation.
As can be expected, success came quickly for Gould. His first recruiting class was ranked No. 26 nationally by Collegiate Baseball and included five players drafted by major league teams. In his first game as head coach, the Mavericks upset the No. 12 Texas Longhorns in Austin. The winning ways continued in Gould’s second season at the helm with opening road victories over No. 4 Arizona State and No. 20 Texas. That 2001 UTA baseball team won 19 of its first 23 games and climbed to the No. 29 national ranking. That spectacular season concluded with a Southland Conference title and the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win at the Houston Regional. With 39 wins, one shy of the school record, Gould was named the co-winner of the 2001 American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings South Central Region Coach of the Year Award.
"What Clay brought to the field: he was a real competitor, a team leader; people would follow what he did, not so much verbally but how he handled himself on the field and what he had to do to be successful," Mocek said.
While Gould earned phenomenal success on the diamond, his body was not experiencing the same. Midway through his first head coaching season, he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his colon. Always the competitor, Gould attacked his disease as failure was an unknown option to him. After aggressive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Gould’s doctors were optimistic as he returned to begin his fantastic 2001 stint as head coach.
Sadly, he fell terribly ill again about two months into the season and during exploratory surgery, Gould’s doctors discovered that his cancer had returned and was spreading rapidly. Just after the close of his fantastic 39-win season, Gould passed away with his family by his side.
The Mavericks' home field was renamed Clay Gould Ballpark on April 26, 2003.
"This is an honor that he absolutely, richly deserves," Mocek said of the induction into the Hall of Honor. "We’re so happy now that his family can share that with him."
Clay Gould may be gone but his fighting spirit and determination for achieving success will be forever remembered in the Mavericks community. His legacy is more than deserving of being named to the UT Arlington Athletics Hall of Honor.
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