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Pete Rose would have paid for hitting Jerry Moses

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 2, 2009

GerryMosespic

This guy was not afraid to get hurt.

Athomeatfenway.com had the opportunity to do a Q & A with Jerry Moses, Red Sox catcher from 1968 to 1970.

Some remember Jerry as the Yazoo City, MS gridiron star who chose Baseball over Football but was sidetracked by injuries.  Others recall Jerry as the 1970 All Star who had a ringside seat on the collision between Pete Rose & Ray Fosse.

When you meet him today, he is a friendly, soft spoken man with a kind countenance that hides his toughness.

He trained with Ted, cheered for Mantle and ran with the Hawk & Frank Howard.

You were a big bonus baby.  How did injuries effect your career ?

Three times I broke my middle finger, I did it even though I put my hand behind the glove.  Anytime the ball went below my glove I flipped it and the hand automatically opened up.  I couldn’t stop it.  I was out 6 to 8 weeks each time I broke it.  The one that really got me was in 1970 when Bert Campaneris was batting in Oakland, and he came around on his swing and hit my glove hand, crushing the network of nerves in my hand.  I tried to play about two weeks with it being that way, but finally the manager said what’s wrong with you ? I said “Nothing’, and he said, ‘Well, you’re not even swinging the bat.”  I said, “I can’t”.  I was bunting for base hits.  I was trying to get walks.  The injury  caught up with me.  I didn’t play the rest of the year.  I got traded the next year. 

The 1970 All Star Game:  Pete Rose & Ray Fosse

I think Ray Fosse and I should have been the only two catchers on the team.  But it didn’t work that way.  Bill Frehan was hitting around .240, but all the fans voting decided Bill should be there, even though Fosse and I were hitting about .310 a piece.  I didn’t get in the game.  When Fosse got in, there was no shot for me because they have to keep somebody as a backup if someone gets hurt.  So, when the collision happened, I was in an open area where the pitchers were getting ready.  We’re in Cinncinati and it’s the 14th inning, and here comes Rose around 3rd.   Ray tried to block the plate without having the ball.  Rose came in shoulder first, and Fosse didn’t know Rose was going to hit him like that.  He came in full bore.  That’s the way Rose played.  He played hard.  I don’t think he had to do that.  I don’t think he should have.  And I don’t think Fosse should have tried to do what he did because that game didn’t mean anything at the time like it does now.  But I will say this, and I’ve said it my whole life:  I had a football mentality, not necessarily a baseball one, and I don’t believe he would have ever gotten to the plate and run over me like he ran over Fosse.  If he did, he would have felt it.  I played a lot of football and I didn’t mind getting hurt.

What do you recall about Gibson and Satriano – the late 60’s Sox catchers ?

In 1970, Satriano was the back up.  He got to catch some because Sonny Siebert and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. Siebert nibbled too much and he didn’t want to challenge the batters. Satriano ended up catching Siebert every time.  The other catcher was Russ Gibson.  Gibby had come up in ’67, playing that year with Elston Howard and Mike Ryan.  In ’68, Gibby caught a good bit of the games and Elston was only there a little that year.  Then in ’69, Gibby was the starting catcher and I was his back up.  In 1970, Eddie Kasko named me as his starting catcher, and Gibby ended up going to the Giants.

Did you recall Hawk Harrelson’s famous psychedelic wardrobe, Nehru jackets, racks of designer shoes and boots?

I loved Hawk.  He was a character.  He swung the bat pretty darn good.   He was unique in so many ways.  I loved him.    He may not have had all the tools, but he had enough.  I saw his Nehru clothing and his cowboy hat and boots, and that was just him.  I was with him a few times on the road, we’d go out to dinner and have a few drinks together, if we were in Washington, he and Frank Howard and a bunch of us would get together and go night clubbing.  These were high profile guys and I was just getting to the majors, so I enjoyed it.  Hawk took me along.  He was somewhat older than me, he had his own group, but he was good to me.

What was Frank Howard like to spend time with ?

The best.  Everytime he came up to bat, the first thing he would do was to greet the catcher, “How you doin’ ?”.  I’m doing fine, how you doin’?”  He was the nicest guy.

He was a guy we listened to.  We were playing Washington at Fenway one day, when Siebert, Reggie Smith and a Senator ended up in an exchange with somebody hitting somebody else, and all of a sudden we started fighting.  And Howard ran in from left field and gets in the middle of it, and says, “Boys, cut this out.”.  And we did.  We listened to him. No one could hit a ball as far he did.

Did you spend time with Ted Williams ?

Yes, actually.  7 years with Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams, both as hitting instructors.  Ted worked a lot with me.  I was a bonus kid that came out early.  This was pre-draft.  I guess they babied me through my time coming in.  It was really an awful situation in that you had two great hitters, great players, great HOF’ers, and what they did they did well, but they had two different ideas of how you should hit.  Doerr wanted you to hit on top of the ball, not necessarily swing down on the ball, but swing close to it.  And Williams wanted you to swing up…and I heard that difference of opinion year after year after year.

There was this wonderful video that Bobby did with Ted, and Bobby gave it to me because he knew I loved both of them.

Bobby was so neat…and Ted was John Wayne, you know, that’s what they called him.

It hurt my hitting to work with both of them.  The first year I hit 13 HR’s in 8 weeks in single-A ball.  I had no problem getting the ball out of the park.  Hitting HR’s was one of the reasons that the Red Sox outbid everyone else for me.  And then once I got into the organization, I tried to do what Ted told me and what Bobby told me.  Before you knew it I became a line drive hitter.  Hitting line drives isn’t a bad thing, but I never hit more than 7 HR’s a year.

Did you find Ted the hitting instructor to be overly technical ?  Mantle once said that Ted confused him.

Ted expected everybody to be as good as him.  And nobody was.

Mantle was my idol, as a kid growing up.  Down in Missisippi, the only guys we could see were the Yankees on Saturdays.

Anyway, I apologized for not being as good as Ted Williams wanted me to be.

Favorite guy to catch ?

Oh, I loved Lonborg.  I didn’t get to catch him as much as I wanted to.  Lonborg and Ray Culp were great. I think Ken Brett would have been a HOF’er had he not hurt his shoulder.

I caught Gaylord Perry with the spitball.  He was a master, a pro’s pro, a tough guy, not always gentle with guys he did not think were hustling.

Favorite pitcher to hit ?

I hit Nolan Ryan pretty good…I went 1 for 3…He K’d me once, I popped out once, and in the third at bat I bailed out on a curveball and broke my bat with the ball going over the shortstop’s head for a single.  God, Ryan could throw the ball.  I didn’t have to face him often.  You didn’t have a chance to tell if there was a tail on the ball because it was coming so quick.

I thought Rollie Fingers was one of the toughest guys coming out of the bullpen.  He had a ball that would sink and a slider that would go the other way.  If you didn’t guess right you weren’t going to come close to it.

It seemed like I hit the better pitchers better than I hit the guys who didn’t pitch so good.  I’m not bragging about any of it.  I hit fairly good off Bert Blyleven, and Jim Palmer, but not so well against the two Baltimore lefthanders, Cuellar and McNally.

I didn’t hit Catfish Hunter well, a guy who never let anybody hit a HR when there were men on base.   He’d wear you out inside and then come outside, and then with the slider.  I faced Hunter 30 or 40 times and always wanted to bat against him because I thought I could hit him, but I never got a hit…..

The good pitchers all pitched inside.  I knew a lot of guys who wouldn’t throw inside because they were afraid of giving up a home run.  You have to have the confidence.

The pitcher is going to pitch whatever he wants to pitch.  The catcher just makes the signs.  But if you have that chemistry, they won’t shake you off more than 3 or 4 times a game.  That’s what made guys like Bill Lee so good.  He’d pitch to you inside.   Bill didn’t throw the ball over 90 or 91 mph, but he would throw strikes….he was a little crazy, but he could pitch.

+++++++++++++

Gerry Moses came straight out of Baseball into the Food business where he has stayed for 40 years.  Among other successful ventures, he is the founder of Ann’s Boston Brownie Company.

He is in good health, is still working and having fun.  He works out and makes it a habit to eat healthfully.  He credits his wife of 41 years, Carolyn, for keeping him in line.  “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what I’d have done; she’s the strength of our house.

Gerry says the present BoSox owners “have been fabulous.  They embraced us and involve us…they seem to understand marketing better than most…..they get us (retired players) into Fenway despite the sell outs…I am lucky and proud to still be in the Red Sox family.”

Moses also added that the Sox he played with were multi-talented.  “We thought after ’67 we were going to have a good run there, but Lonborg got hurt, Santiago got hurt, Mike Andrews got hurt.

Those are the BoSox I remember so well.  Moses, Yaz, Reggie, Harper, Andrews, Rico, Boomer, both Conigliaro’s, Peters, Nagy, Romo, Lee, Lyle, Culp, Siebert and John Kennedy, the super sub.

That pre-Rice era of BoSox played its heart out and won more than it lost.

Gerry Moses fit right in.

Rose Fosse

Fosse's shoulder injury may have cancelled his ticket to stardom.

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3 Responses to “Pete Rose would have paid for hitting Jerry Moses”

  1. Angelo said

    Gerry Moses—-a total class act when he played the game. It’s great to read this and see that he’s STILL a class act in the business world.

  2. Chuck said

    Thanks for doing this interview, both of you. Jerry you were a favorite of mine and I am glad to see you’ve done well with family and life after the game.

  3. Jim said

    I was riding to a golf match listening to Dick Radatz on talk radio. They were talking about the longest home run ever hit at Fenway Park. Radatz had no doubts – he said they had a young catcher named Gerry Moses who pulled a ball down the line that probably hasn’t come down yet. I was there, and I’ve been to hundreds of Red Sox games; that was the longest home run I’ve ever seen. Of course, I saw Mark McGuire hit three in one game at Fenway, and the longest might have been as long as Moses’s, but we all know why it was so long, don’t we?

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