Donnie Moore
(Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated)

To be sad and sloppy simultaneously is a feat many wouldn’t want to have the label of. Unfortunately, 1980s relief pitcher Donnie Moore accomplished both, with his life ending up being depressing and ultimately a disappointment. He did it with actions on the field and off the field, two instances in particular that are highlighted with sorrow.

To back things up, Donnie Moore was an exceptional baseball player. He starred in the first wave of closers in the mid-1980s primarily for the California Angels. He was their back end of the pitching staff, with his best year coming in 1985. His Earned Run Average dropped to 1.92 and recorded 31 saves. He made his one and only all-star appearance this year and received MVP and Cy Young votes.

The next season, Moore was still solid as a reliever with a 2.97 ERA. This was enough to have him close out games that postseason. The Angels managed to win the American League West and make it all the way to a Game Five in the ALCS. At that point, the halos had a commanding three games to one lead over the Red Sox.

In the ninth inning of Game five, Moore was one out away from sending the Angels to their first World Series clinging to a 5-4 lead. In stepped an injured Dave Henderson as a pinch hitter with a runner on. Before Donnie knew it, the count was 2-2 and only one strike away from the American League pennant. Then BAM. Henderson flexed his muscles and drove the ball into the left-field bleachers for a go-ahead home run. The Angels lost the game in extras, and eventually, the series.

Moore had this to say about what occurred: “I’ll shoulder the blame. Somebody’s got to take the blame, so I’ll take it…I threw that pitch. I lost that game”

It was later revealed that Moore was injured during the series, but tried to push through. After this, his career was never the same, and it always felt like he let his city and his team down. Moore played his last Major League season in 1988, retiring at age 34.

One year later, Moore got involved in an altercation with his wife. Unfortunately, the event turned for the absolute worse, with Donnie shooting his wife in front of his children to see. His wife survived, but Moore took the gun and killed himself in front of his family.

His relationship with his wife to that point wasn’t a pretty one, as he abused and would repeatedly beat her. He had a jealousy issue and wouldn’t let her even talk to other men.

It’s unfortunate. When news got out of Moore’s suicide, immediately people assumed it was due to Dave Henderson hitting that home run off of him three years earlier. In reality, in those years between, both the fans and the media weren’t very kind to Moore. His numbers fell as a result. Who’s to say if Moore shot himself due to the home run he gave up? It’s easy to come to that conclusion, but let’s not forget that he also was an abusive alcoholic.

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