Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Moe Thacker Day!!

Moe Thacker (1934-1997)

On the 21st of May, The Baseball Enthusiast celebrates the not-so-great players in Baseball History by proclaiming the Birthday of Morris Benton "Moe" Thacker as the most reasonable day of the year to pay tribute to those whose lack of excellence at the Major League level matters less in our hearts than their determination and honorable opportunity to play the greatest game in the world.

If you don't remember Moe from this post last year, here's a recap of Moe's amazingly un-amazing professional baseball career and life:

Moe was a beast during his high school days at duPont Manual in Louisville, Kentucky; he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. He was the Captain of Manual’s State Championship Baseball team in 1952 and would be the last Manual alumnus to make it to the major leagues. Thacker was best known as a catcher, avoiding college and heading to professional baseball right out of high school; signing with the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent. His career in their system began with the Fond du Lac Panthers of the Wisconsin State League in 1952, then the Joplin Miners of the Western Association in 1953 and the Norfolk Tars of the Piedmont League in 1954. 1955 saw Thacker debuting in AA ball on the roster with the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association, then breaking out in 1956 with AAA clubs Richmond Virginians (International League) and the Denver Bears (American Association) before returning to AA in 1957 with the New Orleans Pelicans of the Southern Association.

Thacker would never make the major league Yankees as an “unknown transaction” sent him to the Chicago Cubs in 1958, where he spent time in the minors with the Fort Worth Cats before playing 11 games with the Cubs. 1959 started with Moe back in Fort Worth (by this time a AAA affiliate) for the entire year. He spent 1960 in both the Houston Buffs (American Association, AAA level) and the Cubs (54 games), and again in 1961 with Houston and the Cubs (25 games). 1962 would be Moe’s only all Cubs season, playing 65 games and boasting a less-than-formidable .187/.287/.234, something much less than solid numbers. In October of 1962 Moe was traded to the St Louis Cardinals in a 6-player deal and only played 3 games with 4 plate appearances for the birds, compiling 3 strikeouts. He spent the rest of his professional career in the minors for St Louis, retiring after the 1964 season with a lifetime .177/.290/.227 in the major leagues. Moe was a successful businessman in the fast food industry as a multi-franchise operator for Long John Silver's, and died in Louisville at the age of 63.  Moe was inducted into the only Hall of Fame he'll ever be in, that of the duPont Manual High School Hall of Fame, in 1998 (the year following his death).  I honor his plaque during each and every visit to the school.

I'm also very proud to annouce that on Episode 9 of one of my favorite podcasts, The Central Message, hosts Nick Devlin and Nick Selby have accepted my nomination of Moe to be the Official Mascot of the excellent Cubs/Cardinals baseball podcast.  A move not only made on the basis of his career as a Cub and as a Cardinal, but also in his success with the Long John Silver's franchise, a chain whose product is very much comparable to Moe's professional baseball career.

Please join me in a wax paper beer cup tribute to the best worst Cub/Cardinal there ever was.  Hoist a few to old Moe Thacker, I'm sure he's rolling in the heavenly hush puppies as he receives our well-deserved toast.  Give 'em Hell, Moe!!!


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