Former pitcher wins former cheerleader's heart

A former professional baseball pitcher and Jesuit High grad earns a woman's heart.
Geoff Goetz and Erica Permane say that attitude and 
mind-set help create your future. Courtesy of Lauren Pauline
Geoff Goetz and Erica Permane say that attitude and mind-set help create your future.Courtesy of Lauren Pauline
Published December 15 2012
Updated December 15 2012

TAMPA — Visible, measurable, sustainable are three benchmarks of success Geoff Goetz teaches business clients. Was he subconsciously applying the principles to a relationship with Erica Permane?

"Ironically, I was," he said. "Certainly visible . . . blond and beautiful. Her family values measure up to mine and make our marriage sustainable."

Geoff, 33, has used the performance matrix since the Jesuit High pitcher was a first-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft, the sixth overall in 1997, and was signed by the New York Mets.

The lefty went on to play for the Mets, Marlins and Yankees organizations, but a shoulder injury made it a tough go as he battled through nine seasons in the minors.

To adjust to his new situation, Geoff signed on as an Achieve Institute client. Six years later, they hired him to coach executives in the productivity program.

Reverse psychology was in play the night the couple met, five days before Christmas 2008, through mutual friends at the Blue Martini bar in Tampa.

"He bought me a drink, then completely ignored me," said Erica, 27.

His indifference worked like a charm.

"I was way more interested than if he had been all over me,'' said the former Tampa Bay Bucs cheerleader, now a medical device sales rep. It took hours, after the group moved on to another bar, for Geoff to share any personal stats with her.

Eventually she learned how he struck out of professional baseball.

"He was going through a difficult transition from the world of sports, which I understood," Erica said.

The evening ended better than it began, with Geoff inviting her to a Bucs game the next day.

They were tailgating by noon. The guy he originally planned to take? Well, he had to scrounge up his own ticket.

Meeting Geoff's friends — who liked her immediately — Erica heard about his career highs and lows.

"Baseball was his whole life," she said, "He had a prosperous future had he not been hurt."

Geoff liked that his friends liked Erica. "There was an immediate closeness to my inner circle," he said. The friendship moved fast. So fast that his buddies wanted her to join them in Puerto Rico for New Year's Eve.

Instead, "my Achieve training kicked in," Geoff said. "I asked myself, having known her two weeks, what is the 'best actual' decision here?"

"I think he didn't want to screw it up that quick," Erica teased. "Then he spent his entire trip calling me."

She was waiting at the airport when he landed and hasn't flown solo since. A year later, they were sharing his condo on Harbour Island.

She thought he might propose in California on the wine-tasting tour they took in 2010. But he waited a few months, until they were with friends at Siesta Key on Memorial Day 2011. With a perfect view of the gulf, Geoff got down on one knee and presented a diamond that had belonged to Erica's grandmother.

They spread the news on their way to dinner that night. "Wish you were here," she said, calling her best friend. She assumed her future maid of honor, who had introduced them initially, was in Palm Beach.

But there she was when they arrived at the restaurant 10 minutes later. "That's how caring he is," Erica said.

Mr. and Mrs. Goetz married Oct. 27 at the Powel Crosley Estate in Sarasota. An hour or two before they said "I do," Superstorm Sandy threw a curveball. Uninvited winds kicked the band and ceremony indoors.

The couple took it all in stride.

"Baseball was a dream," he said. "I chose reality and life with Erica."

Amy Scherzer can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3332.