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From Pop-Ups to Pop Quizzes: Former Tiger Now a Classroom All-Star

As the Tigers pursue the division title, we catch up with former pitcher Andrew Good, of Royal Oak.

Who's your Tiger?

You may have seen the commercials or perhaps the banners down at Comerica Field asking this very question.

For North Hill Elementary School staff and students, the answer is easy.

After a pitching career in Major League Baseball, including one season with the Detroit Tigers, Andrew Good, is now teaching teach fifth grade in Rochester.

The majors

Good remembers every detail of what will be one of the defining moments of his life.

It was April 18, 2003: Good Friday, in St. Louis. There were 40,000-plus people in the stands of Busch Stadium when Good, at the time an Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher, got the call from the bullpen to start warming up.

He was about to play his first game in the major leagues.

"My heart started beating so fast. I thought I kind of jogged out to the mound but my teammates told me I sprinted," Good said. "I couldn't feel my feet touch the ground."

From there, muscle memory took over. His first hitter popped out and sensation started to return to Good's body.

Good pitched for parts of three seasons in the major leagues, including two games with the Tigers in 2005. He appeared in 35 major-league games, most of them with the Diamondbacks, and he posted a career record of 5-4.

That's not your typical get-to-know-your-teacher story.

Growing up with baseball

Good said some of his most vivid memories are of playing baseball as a kid in Rochester where he grew up.

"This was a great area to grow up in," Good said. "Sometimes I drive by my old house and remember the wiffle ball games we had in the back yard. I remember playing catch with my dad and brother in all the parks and fields around town.

"This town had good competitive baseball, and it helped me grow my skills. Without that competition I could never have done what I did."

Part of that journey to the majors included a 1997 baseball state championship for Rochester High.

"It was a great experience. Those were the guys I grew up with. It was the accumulation of years of hard work — and fun," Good said.

But was it all baseball growing up?

"I met my wife, Michele, here in our sophomore biology class. We've been together ever since," Good said with a smile.

The Goods have two young boys and live in Royal Oak.

From pop-ups to pop quizzes

Good was drafted right out of high school. It was a life-altering moment in more ways than one. 

"It was a difficult decision," he said. "I always thought I'd go to college but if I had gone right after high school I would not be a teacher today."

Good said his interests at that time would have led him to a more sports-oriented major. Instead, he played baseball and then he coached baseball and along the way he realized that he really enjoyed helping someone learn something they couldn't do before.

Good returned to Rochester as a student at Oakland University. He was a student teacher at University Hills and when he graduated in December of 2011 he was hired as a math/reading interventionist at Hamlin Elementary. During that interview process he met North Hill principal Dave Pontzious, the former principal of Oakland Elementary in Royal Oak. When a fifth-grade position at North Hill opened up this year, Good interviewed with Pontzious again and was hired.

"I love this age group and the excitement they have for learning," Good said. 

He remembers that his own favorite subject in fifth grade (besides gym and recess) was math. "I have a lot of positive memories of my elementary experience," Good said. "The teachers and coaches in my life were so important.

"I want to make a positive impact on my students' lives as well."

Just asking

The bright lights (and elbow surgeries) of the majors are behind him now as Good settles into this new career as teacher.

But, still, we have to ask: "Who is your Tiger, Mr. Good?"

And the correct answer is: Jose Valverde. 

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