Just to follow up on yesterday’s post, here is some more info on Wally’s famous Moonshots…
Today would have been Wally Moon’s 88th birthday; he passed away earlier this year, on February 9th. Wallace Wade Moon was born in Bay, Arkansas, on April 3, 1930, and made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals on April 13, 1954. He was 24 when he made his debut, having already earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Texas A&M University.
Moon was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1958 season. Moon’s first season with the Dodgers was their second season in Los Angeles and in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (the Dodgers played at the Coliseum from 1958 to 1961). According the author William McNeil (quoted by the Baseball Almanac), right field at L.A. Coliseum “was death for left-handed hitters.” The left field fence was 251 feet from home plate, right field was 300 feet away, and center field 420 feet away. After the 1958 season, Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick ordered the Dodgers to add a 42-foot wall behind left field to prevent pop flies from turning into home runs.
Moon, however, found a way to overcome the wall. As a left-handed batter, Moon knew that the Coliseum would be a tough place for him. After consulting with his mentor and friend, Stan Musial, Moon adjusted his batting stance to emphasize hitting to left field. Moon’s high fly balls that dropped behind the wall became known as “Moonshots,” coined by none other than Vin Scully. During the 1959 season, Moon batted .302 with 19 home runs (14 of them at home) and his team won the World Series. The next season, Moon would bat .299 – and appear on an episode of Wagon Train!
Moon played with the Dodgers until his retirement at the end of the 1965 season. Moon was a 3-time All-Star, a member of three World Series championship teams, NL Rookie of the Year in 1954, and a Gold Glove winner in 1960. He was inducted into the Texas A&M University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967. After his retirement from the Dodgers, Moon went on to become a batting coach for the San Diego Padres (1969); the athletic director and baseball coach at John Brown University (1966-77, except for 1969); coach, manager, and owner of the San Antonio Dodgers (1976-80); manager of the Prince William Yankees (1987-88); the second manager in Frederick Keys history (1990-91); and hitting instructor for the Baltimore Orioles. He was named the Carolina League Manager of the Year in 1990.
Thank you for your contributions to baseball and the baseball lexicon, Wally. Rest in peace.
OPENING DAY IS ONLY FIVE DAYS AWAY!!!!!!!! Since we’ve been highlighting younger players the past few days, I thought I’d share some facts on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ No. 5, Corey Seager. The almost-24-year old, shortstop was drafted in 2012 by the Dodgers and made his Major League debut on September 3, 2015. He was selected for the National League All-Star team in 2016 and 2017, and named NL Rookie of the Year in 2016. He is also a 2-time recipient of the Silver Slugger Award.
In December 2016, after a very successful rookie season, Seager joined fellow Dodger Joc Pederson in hosting a youth baseball camp in Hawaii. Proceeds from the event benefited a local foundation.
Ever wonder where your favorite MLB players went to college? Or if any MLB players went to your college? For example, if you want to know who went to Korea University and made it to the big leagues, all you have to do is go to the Baseball Almanac’s College Baseball page. At that site you can click on any college listed, see which major leaguers went to school there, and get stats on those players.
So, who went to Korea University? None other than Hee-Seop Choi, who played for the Cubs, Marlins, and Dodgers between 2002 and 2005. This left-handed hitter played in 363 games in his four year career with a batting average of .240. For more stats, check out the Baseball Almanac.
Who went to your college?
Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled a new statue of Jackie Robinson outside the stadium. As the 70th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball was observed across MLB, the Dodgers’ celebrated his legacy and impact on baseball and society with much fanfare – including the installation of this amazing statue.
My main goal in visiting Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago was to see this statue. It is truly awe-inspiring. The remarkably detailed statue shows Robinson sliding home. On the base of the statue are several quotes from Robinson including one of my favorites, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
Check out the video below from CBS News documenting the event.
I’ve always loved Dodger Stadium. Maybe its because its one of the three oldest MLB stadiums still in use. Maybe its because its all the way across the country in the Golden State, the land of stars, the land of milk and honey. Or, perhaps, its the the lure and lore of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whatever the reason, there’s just something about Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Dodgers that always draws me in.
So, when I found myself in Los Angeles recently for a business trip, I had to visit Dodger Stadium. It didn’t matter that I’d been there before, or that it was the off season, or that I was with non-baseball fan coworkers. I had to make the pilgrimage.
What many folks might not know is that Dodger Stadium is open on days there are no games – even during the off-season. You simply enter at Gate A (Sunset Gate) at the corner of Vin Scully Avenue and Stadium Way. Inform the person at the gate that you want to visit the gift shop and follow his or her directions to get to Lot P (i.e., “follow the blue line”). Eventually you’ll end up at the top level of the stadium and can go right into the gift shop.
Just outside the gates is the retired numbers plaza, where you’ll see giant statues of the Dodgers’ retired numbers – chief among them is no. 42. To the left you’ll see a staircase that will take you down to the Left Field Reserve Level, where you’ll find the recently installed Jackie Robinson statue (more on that tomorrow). After visiting the gift shop, you can enter the stadium. An existential, life-affirming feeling will take hold of you as you soak it all in. You will be one with the baseball gods.
As preparations are underway for the upcoming holidays, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minor League Baseball each shared photos of what have to be the best gingerbread houses – or rather, stadiums – EVER!