Thursday, September 23, 2010

#19 - Gerry Moses

Gerry - or Jerry - Moses, depending on the source, was an itinerant backup catcher in the first half of the '70's. In '73 he replaced one of the guys for whom he was traded - John Ellis - in filling that role for the Yankees behind Thurman Munson. Since Thurm almost never sat back then, Gerry's field and plate time declined substantially though he did pretty well in his limited work. Here he revives the away uniform photo and displays the brightest smile this side of the first Aaron card. Gerry was a big boy at 6'3" and 205 lbs and it shows in this photo. As usual, I do not know where this was shot, but I have never seen a stadium where the seats come right down to the field before which should be a good clue. My guess is spring training.

Gerry Moses was a big deal athlete while growing up in Mississippi and was widely recruited by SEC schools as a quarterback. In baseball in high school he both pitched and caught and had an understandably big arm. But his favorite team growing up was the Red Sox so when their local scout offered Gerry a huge bonus in '64 he chose baseball. That summer he hit well in A ball with 13 homers and 39 RBI's in a bit over 200 at bats. In '65 while Gerry didn't hit too well at either A or Double A levels, he was called up to Boston mid-spring because of his bonus baby status and hit a homer in his second of four pinch at bats In '66 he began his military commitment and around that hit much better in Double A. He then roughly matched those numbers in a '67 at the same level and a '68 in Triple A. Towards the end of that latter season he returned to Boston where he put up some nice numbers during his late look.

1969 was smack in the middle of a long transient period for Boston in the catcher position. Russ Gibson was the number one guy but he was an old 30 and didn't have much of a stick and during the season the Sox acquired two new guys in Jose Azcue from Clevelnad - who was actually in the same boat as Gibson but even more so - and then Tom Satriano from California, who was really more of a utility guy than straight catcher. But they all had experience behind the plate and though Gerry came out of the box strong he was barely used until late August when he took over the starting catching role the rest of the way and hit pretty well. He retained that role in '70 when another hot start had him with a .300-plus average in early June when he was named to the All-Star team. But the second half of the season was full of injuries, including one to his finger, and his average fell 40 points as he had to miss some games. After that season it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before another kid would be taking over the Boston catcher role and Gerry went to California in a big trade with Tony Conigliaro and Ray Jarvis for Dog Griffin, Kan Tatum, and Jarvis Tatum.

The California catching situation was not terribly unlike Boston's in '69 so in '71 Moses was one of three guys to get regular time behind the plate. Though Gerry's offense came in a bit as his at bats did, he picked off 43% of attempted base stealers. Then, just after that season ended, he was part of another big trade, moving with Alex Johnson to Cleveland for Vada Pinson, Frank Baker, and Alan Foster. With the Tribe Gerry backed up Ray Fosse in a season in which his numbers continued to move the same directions, that year his pick-off percentage moving to 48%. In a recurring theme, big trade number three moved Gerry to New York with Graig Nettles for Chalie Spikes, Rusty Torres, Jerry Kenney, and John Ellis. After his yet further reduced role in '73 Gerry moved again, this time to Detroit as part of a deal in which Ed Farmer went from Detroit to NY, Jim Perry went from the same place to Cleveland, and Walt Williams and Rick Sawyer went from Cleveland to NY. With the Tigers Gerry's plate time moved up a bunch since starter Bill Freehan was in decline mode. That year Gerry hit .237 with 19 RBI's in just under 200 at bats. Then in '75 Gerry moved three times: to the Mets in January; San Diego in April, and the White Sox in July. All the moves were sales and Gerry played barely at all at each stop. It would be his final season as a player and he finished with a .251 average with 25 homers and 109 RBI's up top and with a .250 average in the minors.

Shortly after his playing career ended, Moses and former teammate Mike Andres opened a baseball school which  has had a pretty long run. He has simultaneously had a long career in the food industry. He is a resident of Massachusetts and has been a very big contributor to the Jimmy Fund and other local charities in the Boston area.

The back of the card indicates Moses' defensive abilities during his minor league stint. The cartoon is pretty cool, especially since Archie Manning reached new relevance due to the success of his kids.

Again, the Yankee route connects the players:

1. Moses and Thurman Munson '73 Yankees;
2. Munson and Gary Thomasson '78 Yankees.

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