Phillip Golden reached as high as the Triple A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners before a second Tommy John surgery cut his promising pitching career short. Like many athletes whose careers ended before they began, Golden couldn’t bring himself to leave the game, so he moved back home, married his high school sweetheart and forged a new life. Home was Fond du Lac, WI, his high school sweetheart was former Marquette University basketball standout Lisa Jones, and his new life was running a year round baseball academy smack in the middle of hockey country.
“Lisa and I weren’t sure if we could pull it off, but we’ve been pleased with the results so far,” Golden said. The Golden Arms Academy never sent anybody to Major League Baseball, but they’re on the verge of sending a player to the newly formed Championship Baseball Association, their son Scott.
“Phillip filled Scott’s brain with as much baseball knowledge as he could,” Lisa Golden said. “But he made it a point to not push him into baseball and burn him out.” Instead, Phillip encouraged his son to play other sports, and Scott chose to follow in his mother’s footsteps and started to excel in basketball, and the Wisconsin favorite, pond hockey. Soon, Scott began to play on teams with players two to three years older than him, and as fate would have it, an injury ended one career and jump started another.
In the winter of his freshman year at Fond du Lac High School, Scott broke his collarbone during the first game of the O’so Pond Hockey Classic Tournament. Exhibiting true hockey player grit, Scott continued to play through the injury and finished the tournament.
“In hindsight, it wasn’t the smartest idea,” Scott said. “I spent years dreaming of playing in that tournament and I wasn’t going to let an injury stop me at that point.” Doctors put two pins into his collarbone and told him he needed three months to recover. Scott ditched his rehab four weeks later and all but moved into the Golden Arms Academy where Phillip started him on a throwing program to strengthen his shoulder.
Due to the nature of the injury, Scott was forced to throw from an almost sidearm throwing slot, which took some time to get used to, but showed immediate results. “His velocity just wasn’t there from the beginning, but we couldn’t help but notice the improved movement on all of his pitches,” Phillip said. “Every pitch he threw darted all over the place like a whiffle ball, and that’s when we realized we might have accidentally stumbled into something special.”
Scott was forced to skip the upcoming baseball season, but had built up enough arm strength to play for his local summer traveling team where he quickly caught the attention of college scouts. One of those scouts was Phillips former teammate and current University of Miami head coach Brian Baillif. “I noticed Scott before I realized he was Phil’s son,” Baillif said. “And as soon as I realized who he was, I knew we had to not let him get away, so we offered him a scholarship on the spot.”
So when Scott signed his first letter of intent before he ever threw his first high school pitch, his teammates jokingly gave him the nickname “The Golden Boy”. I couldn’t have been more appropriate. Baillif, too, said he caught some flak from other college coaches for offering a 15 year old with no real experience a scholarship, but he was immediately rewarded. Scott decided to quit basketball and hockey and concentrate solely on baseball.
Scott went on to set every Wisconsin high school pitching record and received scholarship offers from every major college baseball program, but stayed true to his first commitment. Baillif also realizes he was lucky that MLB and AABL decided to fold as well. “I have no doubt Scott would have been the number one pick in every draft,” he said. “Scott’s been blessed with great genes, and we here at Miami have been blessed with the best pitcher this school has ever seen.”
Two injuries changed two lives, and now two dreams will be met. Scott “The Golden Boy” Golden got to realize his dream of playing in the O’so Pond Hockey Classic, next he gets to realize his father’s dream of playing major league baseball. “I owe everything in my life to my father,” Scott said. “I know this might sound bad, and I know he’d never say it, but deep down I know my dad will be happier than me if I get lucky enough to get drafted and I couldn’t think of a better person to share that joy with.”