Lloyd “Whitey” Moore – Pitcher
Note: his is player biography is part of our feature, The 29th Infantry Division’s Blues and Grays: the men behind one of the Army’s best World War II baseball teams by Drew Sullins, Colonel (Retired), U.S. Army
“Whitey” Moore is another player the 29th Division team acquired from the 69th Division. The 30-year-old Moore, from Tuscarawas County, Ohio, was a combat engineer who served in the 269th Engineer Battalion and saw plenty of fighting. Moore was not drafted into the military but actually enlisted and then volunteered to use his enlistment to bring publicity to the Army’s wartime manpower efforts. This was attractive to the Army because “Whitey” Moore was a fire balling big-league pitcher and World Series champion.
Moore was property of the St. Louis Cardinals, but he was better known for his stint with the Cincinnati Reds from 1936 to 1942. During that time, the Reds won two National League pennants and appeared in two World Series. In the 1939 Series, the Reds faced off against the New York Yankees who swept them in four games. In his only appearance in the 1939 Series, Moore entered game three in relief trailing 7-3 in the seventh inning; an inning he ended by striking out Joe DiMaggio, perhaps the greatest player of the time. Moore handcuffed the Yankees for three innings not allowing a hit, but the Reds could not close the gap losing the game. In the 1940 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Moore tossed eight innings over three games all in relief. Each time Whitey entered a game, he inherited a difficult situation, but still earned accolades for his performances, which included retiring future Hall of Famers Charlie Gehringer and Hank Greenberg. The Reds defeated the Tigers in seven games, which gave the 29th Division’s baseball team a World Series champion.
Whitey Moore was the kind of pitcher whose potential made baseball people salivate. It was said that the 6’1” 195 pounder had velocity comparable to Bob Feller’s. Legendary baseball general manager, Branch Rickey, told the Cincinnati Enquirer in May 1937 that the Reds had a future pitching great on their hands. When Moore joined the Reds, its management was extremely high on him and believed he was a future star if he could only maintain consistent control. Reds manager Bill McKechnie was always concerned about Whitey’s ability consistently hit the strike zone. When Whitey was “on” he was virtually unhittable, but just as often as he pitched well, he was also yanked for walking too many batters. While one Cincinnati Enquirer article dubbed Moore, “the original wild man,” another quoted American League umpire Bill Summers as saying Whitey Moore’s stuff in game three of the 1939 World Series – the game in which he struck out DiMaggio – was the best he had seen that entire season. It appears that in Whitey Moore’s Major League Baseball career it was either Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.
Then, there was the off the field incident. Shortly before the 1939 World Series began Whitey landed in hot water with Reds’ management, and his manager, McKechnie. On Saturday, September 21, 1939, as the Reds were closing in on the National League championship, Moore was found passed out and intoxicated in his wrecked car by the Cincinnati police. It was a distraction that the team did not need, as six weeks earlier, one of their catchers, Willard Hershberger, committed suicide in his Boston hotel room while the Reds were on a road trip. As a franchise, the Reds were reeling from Hershberger’s death and under undue pressure, much of it self-imposed, by having to live down the fact that their only World Series championship came because of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal in which several of the heavily favored Chicago White Sox’s players fixed games with mob gamblers. With those things weighing on the organization, Whitey Moore became an unwanted distraction.
In a court case that played out in the newspapers, on October 10, 1939, two days after the World Series ended in a Reds loss, Whitey Moore was sentenced three days in jail on a work detail and had his drivers’ license suspended for six months. When he signed his contract for the 1940 season, the Dayton Journal-Herald dubbed him the Reds’ “Bad Boy.” Moore addressed the issue directly and said, “There will never be any repetition on my part of that darn foolishness that put me in the doghouse last year.” To his credit there never was, but nonetheless, in the middle of the 1942 season, the Reds traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for whom he only pitched in nine games.
After his break for military service, Whitey Moore briefly returned to the Cardinals organization but never pitched in the majors again. Lloyd “Whitey” Moore appeared in 133 regular season MLB games and four World Series contests over seven seasons. His won-loss record was 30-29 with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.75. After his playing days, Whitey settled in Uhrichsville, Ohio where he worked as an assembler in an industrial plant for more than 30 years. He retired in 1977 and remained there with his wife Frances who passed away in 1984. Whitey died three years later on December 10, 1987. He was 75 years old. They had no children.
Continue to Joseph Davis Blalock – Outfielder