Friday, January 20, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Moe Drabowsky, Oriole #226

This week, I'm combing two of my themed posts, Unpossible Autographs, signifying an Orioles player who has passed away, and Counting Down the Orioles, which chronicles the Orioles debuts. If I like it, I might make it a new thing. 

(Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is a few pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.") 

Although this autograph has been in my collection for some time now, I think that I've avoided writing about Moe because I don't feel qualified to do so. I know that I've written many posts about old-school players who I never saw play and don't know much about, but I've heard so many stories about Moe's legendary prankster status, that I have no idea where to begin. But here it goes...

Moe was born in Ozanna, Poland in 1935 and, luckily, his family moved to the U.S. in 1938, ahead of many of the Nazi-era Eastern European atrocities that took place in the ensuing years. 

Moe made his Orioles debut on Opening Day, 1966 against the Red Sox. He was the first pitcher out of the bullpen that day and pitched 1.2 innings of relief, allowing two hits, one run, one walk and striking out one. 

Over his career, he pitched in the Majors for 17 seasons, including two well-timed stints with the Orioles that allowed him to be a member of their 1966 & '70 World Series winning teams, even though he spent parts of two seasons with the Royals in between the two Championships. In game 1 of the 1966 Series, he set a still-standing World Series record for relief pitchers by mowing down 11 consecutive Dodgers, and tied the single game record with six consecutive strikeouts. Now that's legitimate domination!

Some other interesting items I read about Moe include how he earned the first win in Kansas City Royals history in 1969, gave up Stan Musial's 3,000th career hit in 1958, and was the opposing pitcher when Early Wynn won his 300th game in 1963. 

And I can't write about Moe without writing about his love of pranks. It sounds like he was the master of the hotfoot; he even managed to give one to baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn! It sounds like there are countless other pranks that Moe was involved with over the years, and while they mostly sound hilarious, they are are too numerous to list here. 

Moe stayed involved with baseball after he retired, and served as a minor league pitching instructor for the White Sox and Orioles for many years. He even served as the AA Bowie Baysox interim manager for a single game in 1996. He passed away in 2006 after a long bout with cancer. RIP Moe. 

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