Wally Moon passed away on Friday night, at the age of 87. Moon played 12 years in the major leagues ranging from 1954 to 1965. Moon spent seven of those big league years in Los Angeles, helping the Dodgers to cement themselves in the Los Angeles sports world. When the team made the move to Los Angeles in 1958, he was still a member of the Cardinals. St. Louis traded him in the following year and Moon thrived in Los Angeles. After hitting a meager .238 in his final year with the Cardinals, Moon came to the Dodgers and hit .302 in hi first year.
The Dodgers were playing at the Memorial Coliseum at the time, which was incredibly difficult for left handed power hitters. The right field fence was a ridiculous 440 feet away making it impossible to pull a ball out. Moon famously consulted with his good friend Stan Musial to change his approach to that of an opposite field hitter. The results of this change would forever alter Moon’s career. He went on to hit .286 in his career with Los Angeles, hitting 64 home runs in his seven seasons. Not bad at all for a left handed hitter playing mostly in the Coliseum.
Moon was a fan favorite in Los Angeles, hitting his famous “Moon Shot” home runs. Even with a star studded lineup that included Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and Gil Hodges, Moon was still a favorite. He was part of a team that made the trip to the World Series three times, and won in all of them. After winning just one championship in Brooklyn, this was exactly the restart the franchise was looking for out west. And Moon was a big part of that success.
Moon’s first year in Los Angeles was by far his best, with 19 home runs and a .302 average. But he will forever be remembered and adored by Dodger fans everywhere. Very few will ever forget his famous “moon shot” that dropped the Giants in a 2-2 game in 1959 that sent the team to the World Series for the first time in Los Angeles.
A small town boy, Wally was born in Bay, Arkansas and graduated with a degree in education from Texas A&M. After baseball ended, Moon finished up his professional career as the athletic director and a coach at John Brown University. With his passing, we remember Wally Moon as a star with humble beginnings and endings. His work ethic and his amazing time with Los Angeles will never be forgotten.
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