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Alonzo Earl Moore
Right-Handed Pitcher, 1901-1907
Height: 6'0" Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: Purchase, 1901 (Dayton - Interstate League)
Left Via: Trade, 5-16-1907 (New York - AL):
Traded by the Cleveland Naps to the New York Highlanders for RHP Walter Clarkson and OF Frank Delahanty
An original in almost every sense of the word, Earl Moore was one of the first stars of the Cleveland franchise. One of 14 children, he grew up in Pickerington, Ohio (near Columbus). His original given name was Alonzo, and that led to one of the first of many nicknames: Lon Mower. For he was a strikeout pitcher, mowing down batters as he moved from semi-pro to professional ball. He played two seasons with the Dayton Veterans of the Interstate League, tossing 5 shutouts (including a no-hitter) in 1900. That caught the eye of the new Cleveland AL club, who purchased him for $1,000.
The 1901 Blues opened American League play in April without any stars, and as it turned out, without many good pitchers. Moore was the only pitcher on the club who ended up with an ERA over the league average. His odd pitching style earned him the nickname Crossfire: he would start at various locations on the pitching rubber and threw sidearm to make opposing hitters uncomfortable. That, combined with a good fastball, made him one of the best pitchers in the American League; he finished 7th in ERA, 3rd in H/9, and 6th in SO/9. In 1901 he also threw what was then defined as a no-hitter; he held the White Sox hitless through nine innings, but lost the no-hitter and the game in the tenth inning. In modern times, that no-hitter was taken off the books, as a pitcher must have not allowed a hit even if the game goes into extra innings to count as a no-hitter.
Moore's excellent major-league debut attracted the attention of National League clubs; with no agreement between the American and National Leagues yet, players jumped between leagues often. After the 1901 season, Moore stopped by the Cleveland office apparently to tell owner John Kilfoyl and new manager Bill Armour that he was going to sign a $3,500 contract to play with the Cincinnati Reds next year, but Kilfoyl and Armour talked him out of it:
However, Messrs. Kilfoyl and Arnour were not content with receiving salutations and both unmasked their batteries of argument and opened fire. Before long they had Moore wavering, and following up their advantage with a compromise offer, the player gave in and placed his signature to a contract calling for the largest amount he ever received.
-Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10-20-1901
Keeping Moore in Cleveland was a big deal, as he was a fan favorite as well as one of their only good players. The Blues were awful in their inaugural season, going 54-82 and finishing in 7th place. But Cleveland made a splash in 1902, adding stars such as Addie Joss, Elmer Flick, and of course Nap Lajoie. Known as the Bronchos in 1902, Cleveland went 69-67 thanks to an almost totally revamped pitching staff (Only Moore remained from the 1901 rotation). Moore again had an good season, posting an ERA+ of 116 and throwing 293 innings.
By this time he was going by a nickname he had given himself. He called himself Steam Engine In Boots, even going so far as to sign into hotels as S.E.I.B. He was confident of his abilities as a pitcher, and almost jumped to the NL again during the 1902 season (this time to the New York Giants), but Cleveland talked him out of doing so again. Armed with a $3,000 contract in 1903, he had his best season, posting a league-leading 1.74 ERA, allowing a league-low 7.1 H/9, and allowing zero home runs in 247.2 innings.
Moore was sidelined with injuries and sickness during the 1904 campaign. but still managed a 113 ERA+. He got off to a much better start in 1905, but his season was derailed after he suffered a serious foot injury in August. He continued to pitch in spite of the injury, and that may have exacerbated the problem. Moore was not ready to go south for Spring Training the following year:
His left foot, which has been been troubling him ever since the last eastern trip of the Clevelands last year, is still lame and the club physician says it would be folly for Moore to attempt pitching for five or six weeks....Had Moore had the proper treatment last fall he would have been all right now.
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2-18-1906
Five or six weeks turned into months, and Moore would would only throw 29.2 innings in 1906. Finally, after a poor spring in 1907, Cleveland dealt Moore to the New York Highlanders for Cleveland native Frank Delahanty (who was finishing up course work at Baldwin-Wallace at the time) and pitcher Walter Clarkson. Clarkson would pitch well down the stretch for Cleveland in 1907, but would be out of baseball by the end of the next season, and Delahanty didn't do much with the Naps. The Highlanders thought that Moore could be effective as a spitballer, but apparently that didn't work out, as he was loaned out later that season to the Jersey City Skeeters of the Eastern League.
It looked like Moore was done as a major-league pitcher, but after a couple seasons bouncing between the majors and minors, he made a return to effectiveness with the Philadelphia Phillies, leading the National League in strikeouts in 1910. But both on-field and off-field issues (including instigating a violent confrontation with Giants manager John McGraw) contributed to the Phillies sending him to the Chicago Cubs in 1913. He played for the short-lived Buffalo Buffeds of the Federal League in 1914, and then retired from baseball.
Moore lived the rest of his life in his native Pickerington, though from time to time he would attend some Cleveland baseball functions. He died in 1961 at age 84.
Indians Career Stats
|CLE (7 yrs)||82||68||.547||2.58||161||151||9||137||15||1||1337.2||1197||598||384||21||449||616||116||1.231||8.1||0.1||3.0||4.1||1.37|
AL Earned Run Average: 7th, 1901; 10th, 1902; 1st, 1903
AL WAR, Pitchers: 7th, 1901; 9th, 1903
AL Hits Per 9 IP: 3rd, 1901; 1st, 1903; 6th, 1904
AL Strikeouts Per 9 IP: 8th, 1901; 9th 1902; 7th, 1903
AL Innings Pitched: 9th, 1902
AL Adjusted ERA+: 8th, 1901, 1st, 1903
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1901-1905
The Sporting News, 1901-1907