- October 9, 1947
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-19-1967 with PIT
A local boy who flashed through the minor leagues by compiling a 29-10 record in 2 ½ seasons, Bob Moose experienced much in his short lifetime. His baseball career featured almost bipolar highs and lows as he pitched a no-hitter, was a member of a World Championship team, threw a wild pitch which ended a championship series with a heartbreaking loss, had his career and possibly life threatened by a blood clot and made a comeback to again prove he belonged in the major leagues before tragically dying in an automobile accident on his 29th birthday.
Moose was born in Export, PA, about 15 miles from Forbes Field. He was a three-sport letterman in high school and is considered the greatest athlete in the history of Franklin Regional. Moose pitched six no-hitters there and was signed by the Pirates in 1965. His quick rise through the farm system culminated with a complete game win in his first start with the Bucs in 1967.
Moose made the team as a 20-year-old reliever in 1968. He pitched well as a rookie, sporting a 2.74 ERA and 126 K’s in 171 innings pitched, but the Pirates did not support him well and his record was just 8-12.
In 1969, Moose had his finest season. He went 14-3 to lead the National League in winning percentage (.824) and he fanned almost a batter per inning. Also, his single game highlight came that year, on September 20, when he pitched a 4-0 no-hitter against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. Such a performance was not completely a surprise given his domination of opposing hitters and the fact he had pitched 7 2/3 hitless innings the year before against the Astros at Forbes Field. Moose’s performance that night was the closes a pitcher ever came to throwing a no-hitter at Forbes. Julio Gotay, a former Pirate, ended the masterful bid with a single.
Moose’s fine season and overpowering slider cemented a spot in the rotation in 1970, but he was less effective, going 11-10 with a 3.98 ERA. Still, Danny Murtaugh had enough confidence in the right-hander to start him in Game 3 of the NLCS with the Bucs down, 2-0. Moose pitched well, but allowed homeruns to Tony Perez and Johnny Bench and a walk to Ty Cline with two out in the eighth, which became the winning run.
Moose’s season during the 1971 World Championship campaign started in the rotation, but his work was spotty, possibly due to interruptions as he fulfilled his obligation as a member of the US Marine Corps Reserves. He pitched well down the stretch as Murtaugh used him in long relief and spot starts to win his final four decisions and finished 11-7.
Moose made one relief appearance in the playoffs, coming in for Steve Blass in the club’s opening game 5-4 loss to the Giants, pitching two hitless innings. He also relieved twice in the World Series and was effective following Dock Ellis in Game 1, but gave up five runs in one inning in Game 2. However, with Ellis hurting, Murtaugh chose Moose to start Game 6. He pitched 5+ solid innings, allowing only 1 run; in a game the Bucs lost 3-2 in extra innings.
Moose served as Bruce Kison’s best man the following day as the two helicoptered to Kison’s wedding after the Bucs had won their World Championship, 2-1.
With Bill Virdon replacing Murtaugh in 1972, Moose was placed back in the rotation and went 13-10. He led the staff with 144 strikeouts and posted a fine 2.91 ERA, setting career highs in starts and innings pitched. Moose had, by this stage in his career, improved his control significantly and had developed a fine move to first. His quick move was not enough to stop the running attack of the Big Red Machine. Named to start Game 2 of the NLCS, Moose appeared distracted by the Reds’ speedy base runners and failed to retire a batter, allowing five strait hits before being relieved by Bob Johnson.
Called on to stop the Reds in the ninth inning of the deciding fifth game, Moose entered a tied contest with runners on first and second. He retired the first two batters, but one was on a flyball deep enough to advance pinch runner George Foster to third. With Hal McRae batting for Clay Carroll, Moose threw a pitch, which bounced over catcher Manny Sanguillen to allow the Reds to take the playoffs from the Pirates.
As with most of his teammates, Moose had a substandard 1973 season. He went 12-13 and suffered from arm and knee problems, but it was nothing compared to what he experienced in 1974. Moose started the year in an extremely poor fashion seeming to get little on his pitches. Then his arm started to swell and by the time a blood clot was diagnosed, his arm was twice its usual size. Doctors feared his career might be over and Moose was told he was lucky the clot had not burst, as it could have been fatal. Moose, showing more of the grit, which allowed him to comeback after his infamous wild pitch, began to rehab and made the team in 1975. Further time was needed to recover his effectiveness and Moose went down to AAA and earned a September recall. Moose may have been the Pirates best pitcher that month, allowing only one earned run in 26 innings to serve notice he would be a factor for the team in ’76.
When Dave Giusti was proving ineffective that year, Moose moved into a more prominent role as a reliever and led the team in saves with 10, although by the season’s end Kent Tekulve had taken over the role of closer.
Sadly, shortly after the season while celebrating his 29th birthday, Moose was killed in an automobile accident. The Phillies Dick Allen, also from western Pennsylvania, honored Moose’s memory by wearing an armband as he played in the 1976 NLCS.
Teammate and current Pirate broadcaster Blass still holds warm memories of Moose. “Bob lived his life to the fullest,” Blass said, “We were kind of alike as pitchers, both threw sliders. Bob had great control and as good a pick off move to first as you would see. I still miss him.”
Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1967
9/20/1969: For PIT (N) vs. NYM (N), 4-0 at NYM. 9 innings pitched.
1970 National League Championship Series
1971 National League Championship Series
1971 World Series
1972 National League Championship Series
* Pittsburgh Pirates (1967–1976)
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