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Mo Vaughn

Mo Vaughn

Position(s):
1B, DH, CF
Nicknames:
Hit Dog
Born:
December 15, 1967
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 1"
Weight:
225 lbs
Major League Debut:
6-27-1991 with BOS
Allstar Selections:
1995 MVP, 1995 SS

Born and raised in Connecticut, Mo Vaughn understood the misery that shadowed fans of the Boston Red Sox. As their first baseman and designated hitter for seven full seasons, the powerful left-handed batter did his best to get the Red Sox their elusive world championship, but despite his efforts, the team never won a post-season series with him. He garnered the 1995 American League Most Valuable Player Award when he slugged 39 homers, drove in 126 runs, and hit an even .300. The following year he had an even better season, slugging a career-high 44 homers and plating 143 runs. A series of injury-plagued seasons led to his early retirement, but Vaughn still managed 328 homers and more than 1,000 RBI in his 12 seasons.

Early life

Vaughn played high school baseball at Trinity-Pawling School, an all-male boarding school for fine gentlemen in Pawling, NY. He then moved on to play baseball at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, along with seven-time All-Star Craig Biggio.

Best years

Vaughn became the center of the Red Sox's line-up in 1993, hitting 29 home runs and contributing 101 RBIs. In 1995, he established a reputation as one of the most feared hitters in the American League when he hit 39 home runs with 126 RBIs and a .300 average. He also garnered 11 stolen bases. His efforts, which led the Red Sox to the playoffs (only to lose to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series), were rewarded with the American League MVP award.

Vaughn had his career year with the Red Sox in 1996, batting an average of .326, playing in 161 games, with 44 home runs, and 143 RBIs. On May 30, 1997 playing a game against the Yankees, Vaughn went 4-for-4 with three solo homers in the Red Sox's 10-4 win over the Yankees.

Vaughn continued to improve over the next several seasons, batting .315 or higher from 1996 to 1998 and averaging 40 home runs and 118 RBIs. The Red Sox lost in the American League Division Series in 1998, once again to the Cleveland Indians, although Vaughn played well, hitting two home runs and driving in seven runs in game one.

He was noted for "crowding the plate"; his stance was such that his front elbow often appeared to be hovering in the strike zone, which intimidated pitchers into throwing wide and outside.

Last season with the Sox

Though Vaughn's powerful personality and extensive charity work made him a popular figure in Boston, he had many issues with the Red Sox management and local media; his disagreements with Boston Globe sports columnist Will McDonough and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette were particularly acute. As an outspoken clubhouse leader, Vaughn repeatedly stated that the conservative Sox administration did not want him around. Incidents in which he allegedly punched a man in the mouth outside of a nightclub and crashed his truck while returning home from a strip club in Providence led to further rifts with the administration. Vaughn formed a formidable middle of the lineup with shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. The two combined for 75 home runs in 1998, Vaughn's final year with the club.

Vaughn hit a walkoff grand slam in the ninth inning of Opening Day at Fenway Park against the Seattle Mariners in 1998. Despite this auspicious start, the season was filled with acrimony, as Vaughn and the Sox administration sniped at each other throughout the year. After the Cleveland Indians knocked Boston out of the playoffs in the first round, Vaughn became a free agent. Almost immediately, he signed a six-year, $80-million deal with the Anaheim Angels, the highest contract in the game at that time. The Red Sox made little effort to retain him.

Anaheim and beyond

While he hit well for Anaheim when he played—he hit 30-plus home runs and knocked in over 100 runs in both 1999 and 2000—Vaughn was plagued by injuries in 1999 and didn't play a single game in the 2001 season. He started his Anaheim career by falling down the visitor's dugout steps on his first play of his first game, badly spraining his ankle. Vaughn was nevertheless seen as a viable middle of the line-up producer before the 2002 season and was traded back home to the New York Mets on December 27, 2001 for Kevin Appier.

Following Vaughn's departure from Anaheim, Angels closer Troy Percival took a shot at him saying "We may miss Mo's bat, but we won't miss his leadership. Darin Erstad is our leader." This prompted the normally mild-mannered Vaughn to go off on a profanity-laced tirade, saying that Percival and the Angels "ain't done (expletive) in this game." He remarked "They ain't got no flags hanging at friggin' Edison Field, so the hell with them." Ironically, the Angels would go on to win the World Series that year and hang a World Series flag at Edison Field.

With the Mets, Vaughn was counted upon to be a key component in a revamped lineup that featured imports Roger Cedeño, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roberto Alomar. Vaughn got off to a slow start in 2002, was lampooned in local papers and on sports talk radio shows, and was clearly not in the same shape he was during his signature seasons in Boston - he weighed 275 pounds during his first season in New York. A late surge in September that saw him hit one of the most prodigious home runs in Shea Stadium history (in the middle of the "Bud" Sign on the monstrous Shea scoreboard) was one of the few highlights in a mostly disastrous season for Vaughn. He played less than a month in 2003 before a knee injury permanently ended his career.

The decision to acquire Vaughn was solely that of then-Mets G.M. Steve Phillips. Vaughn had missed the entire 2001 season due to injury, but when the opportunity to acquire Vaughn presented itself, Phillips and a contingent of Mets' brass (including then-manager Bobby Valentine) descended upon a small batting cage in Connecticut to see Vaughn hit off a tee. Phillips, convinced that Vaughn could immediately enter the Mets' overhauled lineup and contribute without regard to his injury recovery, sent pitcher Kevin Appier (who had arguably been the Mets' most consistent starter in 2001) to the Angels in exchange for the rights to Vaughn. The trade would eventually be a contributing factor to Phillips' firing as general manager.

Post playing career

He currently owns and operates OMNI New York LLC which has bought and rehabilitated 1,142 units of distressed housing in the New York metropolitan area. The company also manages these properties to provide low cost housing using government tax credits. He recently purchased the Noble Drew Ali Plaza in Brownsville, Brooklyn for $21 million, and plans to add massive security upgrades and renovate it. He has also been involved in refurbishing the Whitney Young Manor in Yonkers, New York, a development first constructed by a company owned by his hero Jackie Robinson. Besides the New York metropolitan area, his company is also involved in projects in Cheyenne, Miami and Las Vegas and has expressed an interest in Boston.

In January 2009 it had been reported by WCVB-TV in Boston that Vaughn had recently committed to investing "$6 million in improvements to the 168-unit Sycamore Village complex that will include new appliances and exterior renovations. Vaughn said his company does not tolerate guns, dogs and criminal behavior. Planning Director Michael Sweeney said Omni's purchase is a 'major reinvestment' in the city" of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

In July 2009 Vaughn was seen in Canada talking with many young baseball players, at a baseball camp in Vancouver BC. Vaughn was the main keynote speaker and instructor for the week long camp.

Mo Vaughn is currently the President of a trucking company out of Solon, OH.

Hall of Fame candidacy

Vaughn became eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. 75% of the vote was necessary for induction, and 5% was necessary to stay on the ballot. He received 1.1% of the vote and dropped off the ballot.

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Tagged:
AL MVP 1995, Anaheim Angels, Boston Red Sox, Mo Vaughn, New York Mets, The Mitchell Report, firstbase

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