Wednesday, May 28, 2008

#471 Donnie Moore

I'm skipping why this card is awesome, because it's the most heartbreaking card in the set. Everybody remembers how the Mets got past the Red Sox to win the World Series in 1986, but few remember how the Red Sox themselves got past the Angels in the 1986 ALCS in similar fashion. Moore needed one more strike to clinch the series for the Angels, instead giving up a homer to Dave Henderson. It's eerily similar to Bill Buckner's fate. Buckner's error in Game 6 of that year's World Series didn't even cost Boston that GAME and yet Buckner was blamed for losing the entire series. While it's true that Buckner's error was a significant contributing factor, numerous other Red Sox played badly after that error to lose both Games 6 and 7. Moore's gopher ball to Henderson lost the lead for the Angels in Game 5, but that game wasn't lost officially until extra innings. And then as a team, the Angels lost Games 6 and 7. And yet, Moore was nearly single-handedly blamed for the series loss.

The media often reported that Moore suffered from depression even before 1986, but that these events placed a terrible burden on Moore and eventually led to the attempted homicide of his wife, followed by his own suicide in 1989. The Wikipedia page for Moore describes much of his career and these later events in detail.

The photo of Moore on this card seems to tell the entire story of the 1986 playoffs and Moore's burden. I only wish that Moore had lived long enough to see the Angels win the World Series in 2002. In the same way that Buckner received much-overdue forgiveness and embrace from Boston, I'd like to think that Moore would have received the same.

Fortunately, the 1988 Topps set doesn't have too many cards that remind us of sad happenings. This card, though, is definitely the most heartbreaking one, serving as a reminder of the tragedy of Donnie Moore.

Cool stat: Moore's 1985 is one of just 7 seasons in history where a pitcher had 100 IP, ERA+ of 200, and 30 saves.

Deceased players and managers: 14


Triple Play said...

This is a sad card. I never knew that Moore suffered from depression.

Raoul said...

Moore's story is sad and tragic, and everyone is lucky it wasn't more tragic -- his wife survived his murder attempt prior to his suicide, fortunately.

But both Moore and Buckner had larger roles in their teams' losses than you're giving them. The Red Sox might have played badly in Game 7, and other mistakes were made in the tenth by Boston in Game 6, but Buckner's error was the last play of the game, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run.

And Moore not only gave up the go-ahead home run to Henderson in the ninth, but he also gave up the winning run in the eleventh on a sacrifice fly to (who else?) Dave Henderson. California had plenty of chances -- even leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth -- but Moore's the one who got the L.

Uglee Card said...

That is sad. I'm surprised how many people are dead in this set, just 20 years after it was published. I mean these guys were professional athletes (theoretically) in prime condition. Obviously, some were freak occurences or tragedies. And yet...

Andy said...

One thing to keep in mind is that guys who make it to professional sports leagues tend to be VERY driven and VERY competitive. The folks often have extreme personalities. This is why athletes are so often cheating on their wives, doing drugs, making bad decisions, etc, at a higher rate in the general population. It's sort of analogous to astronauts. Nearly every person who has been on the moon has died early in life because these guys all race motorcycles, live hard, etc. Plus, I don't think the death rate among ballplayers from years ago is any higher than the rate in the general population.

Awkward Moment said...

great post about a good guy.

His career stats are quite interesting too:

1 game started in each of his first four year which is weird stat line

but check out his ERA: nothing under 4.00 for the first 7 years of his career... then he goes to the Braves and things get much better. What happened there? Who was the pitching coach in ATL in 82-83?

Anyways, a nice career turnaround at age 29