May 20th, 2012

May 20 – Happy Birthday Wilcy Moore

Few Yankee pitchers if any ever had a better big league rookie season than Wilcy Moore was able to put together. First of all, he broke into the Majors with perhaps the greatest team in league history, the fabled 1927 New York Yankees. That squad won 110 games in their 154-game season and finished 19 games in front of the second place Philadelphia A’s. As a team, the ’27 Yankees averaged .307 and their pitching staff gave up just 3.20 runs per game, both tops in the league. Miller Huggins used his 30-year-old first-year pitcher mostly out of the bullpen that season and when baseball historians applied the modern day save rule retroactively, it was discovered that Moore led the AL in saves in 1927 with 13. He also won nineteen games while losing just seven and posted a league-leading 2.28 ERA that year.

To top it all off, Moore also made the greatest wager of his life during that 1927 season. The great Babe Ruth bet the weak-hitting Moore $15 that the pitcher would not hit a home run during the 1927 season and sweetened the pot by giving the native of Bonita Texas, twenty-to-one odds. Moore won the bet on September 16 1927 when he hit his first and only big league home run against Chicago White Sox pitcher Ted Blankenship. He used the Sultan of Swat’s three hundred dollars to purchase two mules for his farm and named one of the animals “Babe” and the other “Ruth.”

Moore would never again approach the level of pitching success he experienced during his magical 1927 season. His cumulative record during his second and third seasons wearing the Yankee pinstripes was just 10-10 with only ten total saves. He spent the 1930 season back in the minors and then the Red Sox selected him in the 1930 Rule Five draft. After pitching most of the next two seasons in Beantown, the Yankees reacquired Moore in an August 1932 trade. At first, returning to Yankee Stadium was just the elixir Moore’s career needed as he pitched lights out relief for New York during the final two months of the ’32 season. But he faded in ’33 and would spend the next seven years in the minors, trying unsuccessfully to pitch his way back to the big dance.

Moore shares his May 20th birthday with one of my all-time favorite Yankees and this outstanding former Yankee starting pitcher and this Yankee pitcher from the fifties.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1927 NYY 19 7 .731 2.28 50 12 30 6 1 13 213.0 185 68 54 3 59 75 1.146
1928 NYY 4 4 .500 4.18 35 2 18 0 0 2 60.1 71 44 28 4 31 18 1.691
1929 NYY 6 4 .600 4.13 41 0 27 0 0 8 61.0 64 36 28 4 19 21 1.361
1932 NYY 2 0 1.000 2.52 10 1 6 0 0 4 25.0 27 8 7 1 6 8 1.320
1933 NYY 5 6 .455 5.52 35 0 26 0 0 8 62.0 92 53 38 1 20 17 1.806
6 Yrs 51 44 .537 3.70 261 32 160 14 2 49 691.0 732 356 284 25 232 204 1.395
NYY (5 yrs) 36 21 .632 3.31 171 15 107 6 1 35 421.1 439 209 155 13 135 139 1.362
BOS (2 yrs) 15 23 .395 4.31 90 17 53 8 1 14 269.2 293 147 129 12 97 65 1.446
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2013.