The 100 Greatest Cardinals: 71-80
NOTE: The BND has endeavored to identify an objective list of the top 100 St. Louis Cardinals players of all time, based on statistical formulas developed through sabermetrics. We’ll count down the list daily, player by player, until April 4, the day of the Cardinals’ 2019 home opener. The running list and player bios can be found at bnd.com.
NO. 76 TERRY MOORE
Nine future Hall of Famers and numerous all-stars populated the Cardinals’ clubhouse from 1935 through 1948.
But there was only one captain.
In that glorious era, which began with the famed Gas House Gang and ended with the championship-winning Swifties, Terry Moore was so universally respected that even “The Mahatma,” Branch Rickey, crowed about him in the April 1, 1943, edition of “The Sporting News.”
“He was particularly valuable because the other players respected his ability, his baseball knowledge and his never-say-die spirit,” Rickey said.
One player said Moore was like a father in the clubhouse.
“If we had any troubles or anything,” said third baseman Whitey Kurowski, “we’d go to Terry.”
Red Schoendienst, whose career was just beginning as Moore’s was ending, remembered trembling after being confronted by the captain for not hustling and seeing other players crumble by the force of his firm handshake.
Even in 1942, as he took his position in center field between Stan Musial in left and Enos Slaughter in right, the Cardinals were Moore’s team.
Of course, Moore could actually play baseball, too.
He was a capable hitter for the duration of his 11 seasons in St. Louis, but had his best years as the Swifties’ National League dynasty began to take shape, hitting .304 with 17 home runs in 1940. He was a career .280 hitter with a 162-game average of 90 runs scored and 64 batted in.
Unfortunately, Moore only once played more than 140 games in a season. Apart from his leadership, he was best known for stellar defense that often caused him injury. He wore a glove barely larger than his meaty hand because he preferred to catch the ball in his palm rather than the webbing of his mitt. Moore dived and slid for balls and once gave himself a concussion crashing into the Sportsman’s Park wall to make a catch.
In June of 1936, Moore famously took a hit away from New York Giants’ great Mel Ott, who relayed the details in his biography “Mel Ott: The Little Giant of Baseball.”
Moore had shaded the left-handed Ott to right-center field, but the ball was sliced into the opposite gap in left.
“It was a sure triple if I ever saw one, but Moore came tearing over,” Ott was quoted. “He throws himself at the ball, hits the ground, skids along for about five yards, and sticks out his bare hand, and catches the ball.”
“Terry Moore ... made the greatest outfield play I have ever saw.”
Cardinals shortstop Leo Durocher marveled: “You can’t tell me there’s a better center fielder who ever lived.”
But after winning the 1942 World Series, Moore joined the war effort by enlisting in the Navy. The four-time All-Star was back with the Cardinals in 1946, just in time to play in 91 games and earn his second World Series championship ring.
At 34, however, he had lost a step in center and was retired after just two more seasons. He stayed with the team as a coach under three managers and managed the Philadelphia Phillies in 1954.
He was the 2016 pick of the special red ribbon panel for induction into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS: 1935-1942, 1946-2948
.280 career | 2 WS rings | 4x All-Star | 18.9 WAR
TOP 100 SCORE: 2.43