Now the Indians' adviser to player development, Johnny Goryl recently completed his 31st season working in the Cleveland organization, a period that accounts for only half of his tenure in professional baseball.
In recognition for his decades of service, Minor League Baseball named Goryl the winner of the fifth annual Mike Coolbaugh Award on Monday. The award is presented to an individual who has shown an outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field.
Coolbaugh played in nearly 1,700 Minor League games, and 44 Major League games, before becoming a coach. He was 35 years old and coaching first base for the Rockies Double-A Tulsa affiliate when he was killed after being hit in the neck by a line drive in a game at Arkansas on July 22, 2007.
"As large as an organization as Minor League Baseball is, it is an absolute honor to be selected for Mike's award," Goryl said in a statement. "It was a very humbling and emotional experience for me when I heard the news, especially knowing how many other people are deserving of this honor.
"I want to accept this award on behalf of my three children, whose understanding of being without dad for all those years made, not only this career possible, but this award possible for me."
Goryl currently advises the Indians' vice president of player development and their field coordinator regarding all departmental operations and philosophies. He started with the organization in 1982 and has pulled stints as a third-base coach, director of Minor League operations, special assistant of baseball operations, infield coach, defensive coordinator and player personnel adviser.
Goryl began his career as an infielder in the Boston Braves organization in 1951 played for 16 seasons with the Braves, Orioles, Cubs, Dodgers and Twins. He spent part of six seasons in the big leagues with Chicago (1957-59) and Minnesota (1962-64).
After his playing career ended, Goryl coached in the Twins organization from 1966-81, including the last two seasons as the big league manager.
"Johnny Goryl is a true baseball lifer and a most deserving recipient of the Mike Coolbaugh Award," Minor League Baseball President Pat O'Conner stated. "He has dedicated more than six decades to our game, mentoring and coaching several generations of players and staff using his immense knowledge, experience, passion and selflessness. Johnny's career is emblematic of Mike's goals of continuing in the game after his playing days and having an impact on future generations of players."
Goryl will be presented with his award at a Dec. 6 banquet during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com.