If it has to do with baseball, Danny Goodman sells it
Los Angeles — To refer to Danny Goodman as merely the director of advertising for the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers is like saying that J. Paul Getty dabbles in oil! Danny's title doesn't begin to tell it all.
Goodman is an original - a man who could see an unlimited market for the sale of novelty items in ballparks at a time when most major and minor league club owners were convinced that their biggest over-the-counter moneymakers would always be food and beverages.
Even as brilliant an executive as George Weiss, who later became general manager of the New York Yankees during some of their greatest years, told Danny to forget souvenirs and concentrate on food. This happened in 1932 when both were working for the old Newark Bears in the International League, a Yankee farm club.
''I used to disagree with George because I've always been a guy who felt he could instinctively read the public and its tastes pretty well,'' Goodman explained. ''People like to identify with sports heroes and winning teams and they will buy things like T-shirts and pennants if you give them style and value for their money.
''I have always claimed to be the first person to sell baseball caps at a ballpark, and so far nobody has ever challenged that statement,'' Danny continued. ''It was also my idea for the Dodgers to get into the mail-order business with sports souvenirs, and today we ship to fans all over the world.''
Although the Dodgers understandably keep their volume and sales figures confidential, Goodman is proud to admit that the team sold more than 10,000 jackets last season at $65 apiece. In fact, Danny says that Dodger warmup jackets have been seen on the streets of Paris, Tokyo, and Sydney, Australia.
This fall he even had a special pair made up bearing the names ''President Reagan'' and ''Nancy'' on the backs. They were presented to the Reagans at the White House recently by Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda.
Los Angeles also has a retail souvenir store inside Dodger Stadium that is open five days a week the year round and every day and night during the baseball season when the team is playing at home.
''Several times during the regular season I offer a souvenir package for $2 during Dodger telecasts that people can send for by mail; usually three items on which we make about 14 cents,'' Goodman said. ''From a business standpoint that kind of selling, unless you know how it works with the rest of our retail program, doesn't make much sense.
''What happens is that when we mail off that package, we also include an attractive Dodger souvenir catalog in color that highlights between 180 and 200 items that we sell,'' he continued. ''Our records show that 90 percent of our mail TV customers over the past few years have bought from us again, and invariably it has been a more expensive purchase.''
One of Goodman's greatest merchandising triumphs was during the 1959 World Series between the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox, when three afternoon games were played in the Los Angeles Coliseum. This was before the present Dodger Stadium was built.
''Since I was aware of the way the sun pours into the LA Coliseum on October afternoons, I figured the fans would be looking for something to shade their eyes and came up with the idea of straw hats,'' Danny said. ''Of course any time a guy buys in huge quantities, he's sticking his neck out because sometimes just finding a place to store things that don't sell is a problem. But during those three games, Dodger fans bought more than 160,000 straw hats.
''My feeling is that the baseball souvenir business in the next few years is going to increase like crazy - that future sales of caps, jackets, and T-shirts are practically unlimited,'' he continued. ''Right now I'm thinking of putting in a line of Dodger jeans for women. But first we'll need a larger retail store with enough extra space so that women can try them on for size before they buy.''
Goodman, who started as a ballpark hot dog vendor in Milwaukee back in 1926, is known by and is a friend of most of the great and the near great of both the baseball and theatrical worlds, as well as a covey of high-ranking politicians.
Danny has been a member of the board of directors of the movie industry's prestigious Friar's Club in Beverly Hills since 1946 and for many years was its entertainment chairman.
Goodman's workday is probably like no other executive's in the country. He arrives at Dodger Stadium each day at 6 a.m., works until noon, has lunch at the Friar's Club, then spends three hours every afternoon visiting with his 94 -year-old mother.
Years ago, when Hall of Famer Ty Cobb was alive, Cobb and Goodman were so close that Ty often sent money to Danny to give anonymously to former major league players who temporarily needed financial help.
''After I received one of Cobb's letters, I would cash his check, get a money order for the player mentioned, and then mail it to him,'' Danny said. ''I would sign the money order with any name I happened to think of. One time Ty sent me quite a bit of money for outfielder Sam Crawford, who was a bitter enemy of Cobb's when they were teammates on the Detroit Tigers.''
Goodman's office at Dodger Stadium is like a huge concrete shoebox that makes use of every inch of room while leaving a walk space for visitors that could easily be likened to a mountain trail. On the walls are probably more than 200 framed pictures of Danny and his friends - from the biggest film stars of their day to Hall of Fame baseball players.
Carved into a small marble stone that rests on top of Goodman's desk are the words: ''A cluttered desk is a sign of genius!''
As if, Danny, your friends didn't already know.