The two have been friends ever since. Hackman has Goossen written into all of his contracts. Besides a lavish salary, Goossen gets first-class accommodations and airfare. And all for standing on Hackman's mark while lights are being set up. "I've had to stay on the same spot for three straight hours," says Goossen. "But it never gets boring. Every day I think how lucky I am to be with Gene Hackman."
They have a lot in common. Both once sold women's shoes—Hackman before his career started up, Goossen after his wound down. Both have three children by former wives. And both exude a certain quality of anonymity. Goossen learned the meaning of the word while playing for the Seattle Pilots in 1969, the team's first and only year. He was chatting up a woman in a Manhattan bar when she asked, "What do you do for a living?"
"I'm with the Pilots," he said.
"Oh. Which airline?"
"No, the Seattle Pilots."
The woman stared at him. Goossen stared back at her. "TWA," he said at last.
Goossen broke into baseball in 1965, around the time Hackman broke into films. He left the majors for good in 1970, the year Hackman did his Oscar-winning turn as Popeye Doyle in The French Connection. Of all of Hackman's film characters, Goossen most reminds the actor of Buck Barrow, the infectiously likable rube in Bonnie and Clyde. Goossen likens the 66-year-old Hackman to his own father: "Not that it's a father-figure deal!" he sputters.
Hackman's concern for Goossen is almost touching. Goossen, he says, keeps him honest. "You can't put on many airs around Greg. He'll make fun of you." Which makes Goossen grin his goofy grin.
"We're just two honest guys," he says. "One of us is very talented. The other's just hangin' in there."