Most people remember former major leaguer Wally Moon as the National League Rookie of the Year for the St. Louis Cardinals, and later on as a standout with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but there was a lot more to the former Bay product than just baseball.
Moon was named after Wallace Wade, former football coach at the University of Alabama. Moon would leave Bay and go on to attend Texas A&M University in College Station where he earned his degree in education.
In the spring of 1954, the Cardinals told Moon to report to their minor league training camp, but Moon ignored the order and reported instead to St. Petersburg with the Redbirds. Moon said he would make the team or quit baseball. The Cardinal organization let Moon stay, and by the end of spring training, Moon had beat out future Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, who would go on to be traded to the New York Yankees.
Did you know, that in his first at bat, with Cardinal fans chanting, "We want Slaughter," Moon belted a home run against the Chicago Cubs? It also happened to be the same game Tom Alston became the first African American to play for the Cardinals. Moon finished the season with a .304 batting average, 12 home runs and 76 runs batted in. He also posted career highs in runs (106), hits (193), doubles (29) and stolen bases with 18. For his performance, Moon was named MLB's Rookie of the Year as well as the Sporting News Rookie of the Year, beating out the likes of Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron for the honors.
Moon was an excellent left fielder with a strong arm and also played right field, center field, and first base in his career. He was a two-time All-Star and won a Gold Glove in 1960.
Moon would play five seasons for the Cardinals, including a career high 24 home run year in 1957. But after a subpar season the next year, St. Louis traded Moon to the Dodgers. Moon responded with one of his best seasons in 1959 in his first year in Dodger blue, hitting .302 with 19 homers and 74 RBI. Moon followed that year up with two more good seasons before closing his career as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter, helping the Dodgers to win two World Championships, one in 1963 and another in Moon's final season, 1965. Moon finished his career with 142 homers and 661 runs batted in while hitting at a .289 clip.
But did you also know that before Moon joined the Cardinals, he spent two seasons as coach of the Lake City Catfish? After his playing career, Moon became athletic director and baseball coach at John Brown University. Moon also served as coach and minor league manager as well as owner of the San Antonio Dodgers for four years. Moon now resides in Bryan, Texas, with his wife Bettye.