Friday, June 8, 2012

#382 - Bob Moose

Just to prove Oscar Gamble didn’t have a monopoly on the whole big hair thing, Bob Moose airs out his ‘do a few feet from the mound. Like a few of his teammates Bob took a step back performance-wise in ’73 as the Pirates were trying to get it together following the death of Roberto Clemente. But he did do a pretty good job bouncing back from a very dispiriting final game in ’72. In Game 5 of the NLCS against Cincinnati, Bob entered the game in the ninth inning with runners on first and second and no outs. After getting two quick outs he uncorked a wild pitch that allowed George Foster to score from third base, ending the series. But Bob rolled pretty well. He had to in ’74 when after a tough start to the season his arm swelled to twice its normal size and he was found to have a blood clot under his right shoulder that could have migrated to his heart. The poor guy certainly wasn’t hurting for drama. Nor for hair.

Bob Moose was a big deal athlete who grew up a stone’s throw from Forbes Field in PA. A halfback in football he was wooed by a bunch of division one schools, including Penn State and Clemson. Instead he opted for baseball, mainly – according to him – because he barely graduated high school. The Pirates were swayed enough by his six no-hitters to draft him in ’65 and send him to Rookie ball where he rewarded them by going 8-2 with a 1.95 ERA.  Then, just cause he liked delivering on his promise he went 11-5 in A ball in ’66 and 10-3 in Double and Triple A in ’67. Late in that last year he got into a few games for the Pirates.

In ’68 Moose had an awfully nice rookie season, splitting time between the rotation and the pen and putting up an excellent ERA. Pittsburgh wasn’t ready yet, though, and some lame run support led to a losing record. In ’69 he turned it on big and despite missing time for the military and a groin injury turned in the best winning percentage in the majors as well as a no-hitter against the champion Mets. Bob would miss more time for his military commitment each of the next couple seasons and in ’70 despite spending all his time in the rotation his numbers took a tumble. That continued into ’71 as the ERA kept inching higher. Both years he got some playoff action with variable success. In ’72 Bill Virdon took over as manager and Bob had his most successful season as strictly a starter, lowering his ERA by over a run. Then the blood clot issue in ’74 pretty much killed that season – 1-5 with a 7.57 ERA in seven starts – and required some minor league rehab in ’75. But he returned to Pittsburgh that summer to put up some pretty good numbers and then in ’76 served as sort of the transitional bullpen ace – 3-9 with ten saves and a 3.68 ERA – between Dave Giusti and Kent Tekulve. Then that October out driving to his birthday celebration he had a fatal car accident. He had just turned 29. Bob left behind a record of 76-71 with a 3.50 ERA, 35 complete games, 13 shutouts, and 19 saves. In the post-season he was 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in seven games.

Bob gets lots of notice for that excellent ’69 season. And he was known for his pick-off move; many other pitchers back then made mention of it.

Bob gets with someone from the other side of the plate like this:

1. Moose and Charlie Sands ’71 to ’72 Pirates.

Yeah, Charlie only had 26 at bats as a Pirate, but look at his career.

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