• Waterbury teen charms baseball’s elite
    By Anna Grearson
     | March 15,2013
     

    Jasper Goodman

    Jasper Goodman is like most any other 13-year-old Vermont boy: He participates in baseball and basketball, and he plays the trumpet in the Crossett Brook Middle School band.

    His “homework” is where the Waterbury resident differs from junior-high classmates.

    Goodman is now a retired Red Sox Kid Nation captain (it was a two-year term), which opened several big doors for the young man with bright brown eyes and a mop of thick, wavy brown hair.

    Goodman co-hosts two radio shows on WDEV, has appeared on WCAX-TV and New England Sports Network (NESN), and has become a regular at Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. He counts Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston and ESPNBoston.com as a good friend and has interviewed all levels of the Red Sox organization — the list would make even the casual fan turn green with envy.

    But he didn’t set out to become a young media master. Once the ball got rolling, his determined work ethic got behind it, and he’s hit the strike zone ever since.

    “Kid Nation started as just one of those things that you sign up for and then forget about in an hour,” Goodman said of the official kids club of the Boston Red Sox, a team he says he “fell in love with” after it won the 2007 World Series, when he was 7.

    He forgot about it for about a month, then the Big Club came calling. Goodman was told he was one of 25 finalists from more than 900 applicants nationwide. To become one of the 12 captains, he needed to win votes in an online poll.

    His father, David Goodman, has a weekly show on WDEV, “The Vermont Conversation,” and Jasper approached NASCAR broadcasting — and local — legend Ken Squier, the station’s president, who also began his media career at age 12, about campaigning during Squier’s noontime sports show.

    “I went on once, twice, three times, and then it turned into a weekly show that I co-host with him,” Goodman said of his 4:30 p.m. Tuesday show with Squier that he still does today.

    It also helped get him one of the 12 captaincies for a term beginning in 2010.

    “The captains program is all about something called Kids Helping Kids,” he said. “Kids Helping Kids was all about us (kids) doing charity events to help other kids. For one event, we had a winter clothing drive. I used the radio show that I co-host to help promote that. We ended up getting tons of clothes. Half of them went to Cradles to Crayons in Boston, and half of them went to Spectrum Youth & Family Services in Burlington. (It ended up being a monstrous 32 bags with over 600 warm clothing items inside.) I also went to a school in Roxbury, Mass., with other captains to donate books and supplies to the school. Prior to becoming a captain, I sat out at a Town Meeting Day with two friends to collect funds for David Ortiz’s Haiti earthquake relief fund.”

    Goodman, whose mother, Sue Minter, is a former state representative from Waterbury and the former Tropical Storm Irene recovery officer for the state, also got some good air time with the broadcast crews for the Red Sox and, through his WDEV connections, was able to attend spring training for the third time earlier this month.

    “Spring training is baseball’s coming-out party,” Goodman said. “I talk to as many players, reporters and executives as I possibly can.”

    And starting next week, Goodman is expanding his media reach with a regular column on the Times Argus sports page, which will focus primarily on his love of and connection to baseball.

    “In the columns that I write about spring training (which will probably be the first two), you can expect to hear from big-name players like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, but also non-household names like Daniel Nava and Ryan Sweeney. Also I try to catch up with General Manager Ben Cherington, and Manager John Farrell, if I can. I talk to them on the fly, and it’s all about who has a free minute when I do.”

    Times Argus Editor Steven Pappas said, “Jasper’s energy and expertise will draw in readers of all ages. I don’t know of too many markets that have such a young talent with the credentials that Jasper has. His ambition is going to lead him to greatness.”

    Goodman’s column, which will debut in Tuesday’s edition, also will feature area baseball including the Vermont Mountaineers and Little League as well as the Big Club and other MLB-related topics.

    He has dipped his toes into print reporting for this newspaper with two stories, one on the Mountaineers’ Hot Stove Banquet in January and another in February on the fundraiser for a third Wiffle ball field to be constructed in Essex as part of the annual Travis Roy Foundation tournament.

    “I love to write,” he said. “One of my favorite subjects in school is English, though I don’t really have a favorite subject — I like all of them. I don’t often have an opportunity to write about sports, however, and this is a great opportunity to do that on a big stage. I’m very excited to start writing it.”

    Goodman can also be seen around central Vermont making guest appearances on broadcasts of local high school games, in the press box at the Vermont Mountaineers and the VIP box at Thunder Road, and was working for WDEV in November 2011 when recently departed Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein and current GMs Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees and Neil Huntington of the Pittsburgh Pirates were at Vermont Technical College for a Tropical Storm Irene fundraiser. The event was put on by ESPN baseball analyst and Vermont native Buster Olney — most of whom know Goodman on a first-name basis.

    He may not look the part — he’s at least a foot shorter and 15 years younger than any other member of the press corps — but once he starts asking his questions, often with a WDEV media pass and wearing a baseball cap, people take notice.

    “Being a kid in the adult media world isn’t always easy,” Goodman said. “When I do interviews, some people take me seriously, and some don’t. That’s the fun of it for me. There’s usually some humor in my interviews. I’m also learning from the best of the best: Ken, Eric Michaels, Lee Kittell. The other thing that’s great about starting at WDEV, I’m learning how to wing it. That’s probably the best thing about the ‘training’ that I’m getting from Ken and WDEV.”

    He also co-hosts a two-hour special call-in show called “The Kid and The Geezer” with Mal Boright and Kittell a few times a year, namely during the preseason, before the MLB All-Star Game in July and the postseason.

    His WCAX appearances have been more of the same, to predict and preview both MLB- and NFL-related events, and he’s chatted with Tom Carron, Jenny Dell, Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo on NESN and the Red Sox radio crew of Joe Castiglione, Dave O’Brien and Jon Rish during his captaincy.

    The Boston Globe crew of Dan Shaughnessey, Peter Abraham and Edes are also in his Rolodex.

    Still, he manages to be a Vermont kid, taking in stock car races, playing his own youth-league games and, yes, getting his homework done.

    “It can be tough on nights when I have a lot of homework, a radio show to co-host, and a big game to watch, but I can usually get it all in,” he said. “I can’t really ask for anything more at this point.”

    Follow Anna on Twitter: @annagrearson

    anna.grearson @timesargus.com

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