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Don Mossi

Don Mossi

Position(s):
P
Nicknames:
The Sphinx, Ears
Born:
January 11, 1929
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
6' 1"
Weight:
195 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-17-1954 with CLE

A master of control, as a rookie reliever for the 1954 American League champion Indians, Mossi was 6-1 with a 1.94 ERA and was unscored upon in three World Series appearances against the Giants. From 1954 to 1958 (except for 1957, when he was a starter) Mossi and righthander Ray Narleski formed one of baseball's best bullpen pairs. In November 1958, Cleveland sent them both to Detroit to acquire Billy Martin and Al Cicotte. Moved into the Tigers' rotation, Mossi was 17-9 with 15 complete games in 1959. On a team that won 101 games in 1961, he led Tiger starters with a 2.96 ERA while going 15-7. After relief stints with the White Sox in 1964 and the A's in 1965, he retired with what was then the best-ever fielding average for a pitcher.

Biography
Mossi was born in St. Helena, California, but grew up in Daly City. Like many players from the San Francisco Bay Area, a region extremely popular with major league scouts at that time, Mossi was spotted at an early age and signed by the Cleveland Indians after leaving high school. In his early years in the minors Mossi experienced some control difficulties, but he eventually overcame these by altering his grip on the ball.

Mossi was given a spot in the Indians' bullpen for the 1954 season; as a fifth year professional, major league rules at the time would have forced the Indians to put him through waivers had he not been given a spot on the ballclub. The quality of the Indians' rotation at that time - which included Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser and Mike Garcia - meant that Mossi, who had always been a starter, had to be used as a reliever by the club. His major league debut came on April 17 of that year in an 8-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. In his first season in the majors Mossi recorded an ERA of 1.94 in 93 innings pitched as the Indians went to the 1954 World Series; the only World Series that Mossi ever played in.

In 1955 and 1956, Mossi continued to play well out of the bullpen. In 1957, he and fellow reliever Ray Narleski, who was also Mossi's roommate, were moved to the starting rotation. Mossi finished the season with a record of 11-10 and an ERA of 4.13 on a team that finished below .500. In the following season he returned to anchoring the bullpen for the Indians. Mossi, along with Narleski and Ossie Alvarez, was traded to the Detroit Tigers on November 20, 1958 for Billy Martin and Al Cicotte. The trade meant that Mossi was guaranteed a spot in a major league starting-rotation, something he had missed whilst at the Indians. The move paid immediate dividends as he went 17-9 with a 3.36 ERA in 1959. In 1960 he went 9-8, albeit on a club that was well below .500, with an ERA of 3.47.

Mossi pitched the greatest season of his career in 1961, going 15-7 with a 2.96 ERA on a Tigers club that recorded over 100 wins. It was not long after this that he began to experience problems with his throwing arm, in his final two years with the Tigers he went 18-20 with a combined ERA of 4.01. Mossi spent the final two years of his career as a short-reliever, his arm no longer capable of starting. Prior to the 1964 season he was dealt to the White Sox, before finishing his career in 1965 with the Kansas City Athletics.

Mossi's career fielding percentage of .990 was the highest ever recorded by a pitcher when he retired. He was named as an American League All-Star in 1957.

Sources:
Baseball Library, Wikipedia

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