Sunday, December 20, 2009

#13 Wally Moses

Wally Moses was an outfielder who came up with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1935, and embarked on a successful 17-year career that saw him amass totals of over 2100 hits and a lifetime .291 average.

Born and raised in Uvalda, Georgia, Moses first caught the eye of Ty Cobb in 1930 when Cobb officiated a sandlot game where Moses was playing, which lead to him signing with the Augusta ballclub in 1931. New York Giants manager John McGraw saw Moses' name, and sent a scout to sign the player. McGraw wanted a Jewish player in New York to attract the growing Jewish population in the city. When Moses informed the scout that he was not Jewish, the scout left without signing him. Moses bounced around southern leagues until Connie Mack signed him in late 1934. He made immediate impact with the Athletics, batting .325 in 1935 and .345 in '36. After seven years in Philadlephia in which he hit .300 each season, and was sent to the White Sox. Over the remaining ten years of his career, he never batted .300 again. He went to the Red Sox in 1946, and after 3 years there, returned to Philly to finish out his career.

After his playing days ended, Moses was a coach for 16, including stops with both Philly teams, Detroit and Cincinnati. He also was a scout and a roving hitting instructor.

After his days with baseball ended, Moses spent his time delving into many activites. He enjoyed hunting, and was a hard-core card player. His habit of smoking two packs a day that started in his teens took a toll, and even though he finally quit in 1978, it was too late. He had developed health problems, losing a lung to cancer and also diagnosed with emphysema. His health slowly deteriorated until October 11, 1990, when he died of a stroke just two days after his 81st birthday.

If you look at Moses' career, some parts are quite an anomaly. In 1937, he hit 25 home runs. He never hit 10 in any other season. In 1943, he stole 56 bases. That was 35 higher than any other season he had.

The Autograph: I am kind of surprised how few Wally Moses autographs there are out there. I found him to be very receptive, at least to my letters. Maybe I caught him on a good day.

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