Glancing Back, and Remembering Wally Moon
Wally Moon burst onto the National League in 1954, ready-made as one of the league’s most accomplished hitters. While his subsequent 12-season career did not quite live up to the promise of his rookie season, Moon was a solid hitter who knew the strike zone and could drive the ball with power to all fields.
Moon was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1950. He made the big league club at the beginning of the 1954 season, and what a rookie year he had: Moon’s 193 hits led to a .304 batting average with 29 doubles and 12 home runs. He scored 106 runs, drove in 76 runs and stole 18 bases, with a .371 on-base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage. He was chosen as National League Rookie of the Year for 1954, winning over two rookies with Hall of Fame futures: Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron.
Moon remained a fixture in the Cardinals’ outfield, hitting .295, .298 and .295 over the next three seasons. He hit a career-high 24 home runs in 1957, the same year he was chosen to be a member of the National League All-Star team.
After his batting average slipped to .238 in 1958, the Cardinals traded Moon to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Gino Cimoli. In his first season in a Dodger uniform, Moon hit .302 with 19 home runs and 74 RBIs, including his “patented” “Moon Shot,” a lofty home run over the 42-foot fence in left field at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Dodgers’ initial home in Southern California. Moon led the major leagues with 11 triples that season, and also had 26 doubles. His .394 on-base percentage was third-best in the league. He was named to the All-Star team for the second time in 1959, and finished fourth in the voting for National League Most Valuable Player.
Moon hit .299 for the Dodgers in 1960 and .328 in 1961, when he also led the league in on-base percentage (.434) and had a career-high 88 RBIs. Over the next four seasons, his batting average never got higher than .262 as he became a utility player on the Dodgers’ bench. Moon was released by the Dodgers following the 1965 season, and retired at age 35.
Moon finished his major league career with 1,399 hits and a .289 career average. A solid left-fielder, he won the Gold Glove in 1960.