The narrow-eyed, lean-and-hungry look of Cardinal Wally Moon on
the above cover recalled an even earlier era of St. Louis
baseball. Moon's all-out play in 1957 revived memories of the
Cardinals' rough-and-tumble Gashouse Gang teams of the mid-'30s.
Like Gashouser Pepper Martin, Moon was hell-bent on the bases
and hit the ball to all fields with authority (.295 average and
24 homers in '57). Like Gashouser Dizzy Dean, Moon grew up in
Arkansas as an ardent Cardinals fan. Unlike Pepper and Diz,
however, Moon had a scholarly manner off the field, befitting
his master's in education from Texas A&M, and he never played on
a St. Louis pennant winner. In fact, two years after our cover
story declared him the embodiment of all that Cardinals baseball
stood for, he was traded, over his fierce objections, to the Los
Yet it was in glitzy L.A. that Moon achieved his greatest fame.
He adapted his lefthanded hitting stroke to the peculiar
dimensions of sprawling Los Angeles Coliseum, then the Dodgers'
home. It was 390 feet to the fence in the rightfield power
alley, which made pull-hitting inadvisable for Moon, but the
leftfield fence, topped by a makeshift 42-foot-high screen, was
a mere 251 feet down the line. In 1959, his first season with
the Dodgers, Moon perfected an uppercut slice to propel even
inside pitches over that convenient barrier. Fourteen of his 19
homers popped over the screen. Through sheer artifice, he hit
more homers to left at home than did his much more powerful
righthanded-hitting teammate Gil Hodges. Moon Shots, they were
called. They carried the Dodgers, in only their third season in
L.A., to the World Series, which they won.
Moon retired from the Dodgers after the 1965 season with a
career batting average of .289. He taught education and coached
baseball at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., for
12 years, owned and operated a Double A franchise in San Antonio
for five years and then managed and coached in the minor leagues
until a heart attack in '95 forced him into retirement. Today,
he says, he's healthy and happy, living with his wife, Betty, in
College Station, Texas, near their respective alma maters, A&M
and Texas Woman's University. Four of their five children were
Aggies, and three, like their father, became teachers. Still,
despite all the success he had enjoyed, Moon has never forgiven
the Cardinals for trading him. "Yes, I'm still angry," he says.
"As a lifelong Cardinals fan it's hard to rationalize that
trade." Spoken like a true Gashouser.
COLOR PHOTO: HY PESKIN [Cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED featuring Wally Moon]