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The slide rule has not always governed Bud Goode's life. The only constant in his 50 years has been the Los Angeles area. His father Henry was a musician who for a time earned a living playing mood music for Tom Mix during the making of his silent films. Young Bud's first memories include a Mother Goose book with Mix" autograph in purple ink. During the Depression Henry Goode eked out a living as an artist. Bud became a "beach rat" and now claims to be the world's best 50-year-old body surfer. Money was scarce. One summer Bud paid his camp fees on Catalina by diving for the coins passengers pitched off the boat running to and from L.A. "When it comes to money, I'm very tight," he says, and by way of illustration he tells of the bone-handled knife he dropped into Lake Arrowhead when he was seven. At the age of 15 he returned to the lake, dived in and retrieved it.
At Occidental College he planned to major in physical education but World War II intervened. With his swim fins in tow, Goode enlisted, wanting underwater demolition. He ended up a junior gunnery officer. Still he managed swims off beaches all over the South Pacific; twice he even got in a dip during lackluster invasions.
These military heroics ended in sickness. While at sea he developed a blood infection and was brought home. Fever had scarred one of his heart valves and Naval medical examiners said it would crystallize and give out in 25 years. Goode was retired with full disability.
He returned to Occidental, took a course in statistical measurement and caught the bug. He went on to get a master's in psychological measurement and began work on a Ph. D. in psychometrics at USC.
Now it would be easy to imagine how Bud Goode got from there to here. But Goode is not as predictable as his computer; instead he got married and became a magazine writer. During the '50s he wrote personality features for such publications as Pageant, Coronet, American Weekly and Photoplay. Not that he didn't betray some of his statistical leanings in this enterprise. He developed a card file—a data base, he might call it today—on how to build character in a magazine article. And he cranked his features out with computerlike speed. By 1958 he was producing about 100 a year.
In the late '50s he joined John Guedel-Art Linkletter Television Productions as a press agent, handling, among other shows, Art Linkletter's Houseparty and People Are Funny, Jack Linkletter's On the Go and Groucho Marx' You Bet Your Life. He remained with Guedel and Link-letter until 1971, throwing himself into Hollywood publicity work with uncommon vigor. He once threw himself out of an airplane to help promote a segment of On the Go, but he was less successful in that venture than in others—he broke his right leg in three places.
In the meantime he began to get back to statistics. In the early '60s he picked up part-time work with a computer service bureau by promising to promote it through sports stories. Goode called a press conference and, using a simple set of statistics, correctly predicted the outcome of the Rose Bowl. Before long the Los Angeles Herald Examiner gave him column space and with his computer he began to write a weekly sports feature. Eventually he was syndicated in 26 papers including The Washington Post, The Minneapolis Tribune and The Dallas Times Herald.
Armed with computer printouts, he couldn't resist cornering coaches. At a reception in Anaheim before the 1967 All-Star Game, Hank Bauer, then manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was being asked what had happened to the pitching staff that had taken him to the pennant the year before. "The pitching is off," was the best Bauer could offer. As Goode tells it, "I piped up in my tremulous voice, 'Do you think it's your pitching control, Mr. Bauer?' 'What do you mean?' Bauer asked. 'Well, when you won the pennant last year you walked about 8% of the batters. This year through the first half of the season you've walked 11%. Over the course of 6,000 batters a year that's 180 extra base runners and if one-third of them score that's 60 runs.' 'Yeah,' said Bauer, 'come to think of it, it seems like we're walking more. Where did you get those figures?' 'Well, you see, Mr. Bauer, I've got this computer....' Bauer's face turned a deep red. 'Computer! I don't need any damn computer to run my ball club,' he roared. 'I have been in baseball 22 years.' 'Well,' I said, 'my computer has only studied baseball for 30 seconds.' " And that was as far as he ever got with Hank Bauer. "He was fired a year later," Goode adds.
When he piped up in his tremulous voice to George Allen, then coach of the Los Angeles Rams, he got a more gratifying response. "So you're Bud Goode," Allen said. "I clip and save all your columns." For the rest of the Allen years in L.A. Goode made two or three visits a season to the Ram offices. "He can tell you what's wrong with your team," admits Tom Catlin, an assistant coach still with the Rams, "but you can't go get what you need at the drugstore." On one occasion Goode told the coaching staff that the answer to their problems was offensive downfield speed. "Bud, you tell us where we can get some and we'll give you a $10,000 finder's fee," said Offensive Backfield Coach Ted Marchibroda.
So how has Bud Goode managed to keep out of the public eye? Fate intervened in the form of Monday night football, which delayed the distribution of league statistics by a day and a half. By the time they got to Goode there was not enough time left to feed them to the computer and get the results to his newspapers before the next game. He lost his syndication. And then he died three times.