Donnie Moore's up-and-down career was most notable for one pitch. One strike away
from putting California in the World
Series, he allowed a Dave Henderson home run
in Game Five of the 1986 LCS. Henderson's game-winning sacrifice fly off Moore then
turned the series in favor of victorious Boston. Moore's shocking suicide less than
a year after the end of his major league career was partially a result of his brooding
on this failure; he said he had become another Ralph Branca, doomed to be remembered
for just one pitch and one failure. His career was ended by a string of injuries,
and he was also dismayed by his inability to continue playing; shortly before his
death he had been released by a minor league team.
After signing a $3 million contract
with the Angels in 1985, Moore set a club record with 31 saves, surpassing his entire
previous major league total, and was named club MVP. Trying to justify his big contract,
Moore tried to pitch despite a sore shoulder in 1986 and succumbed to nerve irritation
in his right rib cage in 1987.
More effective against lefthanders than righthanders,
the righthanded Texan led the 1978 Cubs in games pitched, but was overshadowed by
Bruce Sutter and Willie Hernandez. He tied for the Atlanta lead in games pitched
in 1983 and led the club in 1984.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»January 10, 1973: In the January amateur draft, the Phillies pick Dick Ruthven, the Rangers take C Jim Sundberg, and the Cubs pick RHP Donnie Moore. The Reds pick Southern Miss punter Ray Guy on the 3rd round, but he chooses the NFL instead.
»October 12, 1986: One loss away from elimination and trailing 5–2 entering the 9th, the Red Sox stage one of the most improbable comebacks in post-season history winning 7–6 over the Angels in 11 innings. After Don Baylor's 9th-inning home run reduces the deficit to 5–4, reserve outfielder Dave Henderson slugs a 2-out, 2-run home run off Donnie Moore to give Boston a 6–5 lead. California ties the score with a run in the bottom of the 9th but Henderson, who had appeared to be the goat when he dropped Bobby Grich's long fly ball over the fence for a home run in the 7th inning, delivers a sacrifice fly in the 11th for the winning run.
»July 18, 1989: Donnie Moore, 35, shoots himself to death at his home after shooting and critically wounding his estranged wife Tonya. Friends said Moore was haunted by the 2-run home run he surrendered to Dave Henderson in game five of the 1986 ALCS, costing the Angels a trip to the World Series, and that he had been even more depressed since his release last month by minor league Omaha.