COLLEGE STATION, Texas - A two-sport standout at Texas A&M, legendary Aggie Wally Moon died Friday evening in Bryan.
Moon, 87, was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967. He lettered on the Aggie baseball squad in 1949 and 1950.
In 1949, Moon batted .296 and led the Southwest Conference (SWC) with seven doubles. An All-SWC honoree in 1950, he batted .363 with 37 runs and 28 RBI. Moon signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals following his junior season with the Aggies, but continued his education, graduating in 1951 and earning a master’s degree in administrative education from Texas A&M while he was still in the minor leagues.
Still deeply beloved by the Aggie baseball program, one of their five team awards bears his name. The Wally Moon Award is annually given to the player who shows the most improvement from September through the end of the season.
Moon’s Major League career spanned 12 seasons, including seven years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and five years with the St. Louis Cardinals. His career numbers includes a .289 batting average, 1,399 hits, 142 home runs and 661 RBI in 1,457 games.
The Bay, Arkansas, native broke on the scene in 1954, winning National League Rookie of the Year recognition with the Cardinals, beating out the likes of Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron. He batted .304 in his rookie campaign with 106 runs, 29 runs, nine triples, 12 home runs, 76 RBI and 18 stolen bases.
Moon was selected to play in the MLB All-Star Game in 1957 and ’59, and was the starting leftfielder in both of 1959’s Midsummer Classics. Moon finished fourth in the NL MVP voting in 1959, batting .302 with 93 runs, 26 doubles, a league-high 11 triples, 19 home runs, 74 RBI and 15 stolen bases. Other career highlights, included a earning a Gold Glove in 1960 and leading the National League in on-base percentage (.434) in 1961.
A three-time World Series champion, he won Fall Classics with the Dodgers in 1959, ‘63 and ‘65. His three World Series crowns trail only Chuck Knoblauch (four) among former Aggies.
He was a fan favorite with the Dodgers with his inspirational “Moon Shots” as dubbed by play-by-play announcer Vin Scully. He even inspired Emmy-winner and lifelong Dodgers’ fan Bryan Cranston to name his production company “Moon Shot Entertainment” decades later.
Moon also earned two letters on Marty Karow’s hoops squad. As a sophomore he appeared in 18 games in 1948-49, averaging 2.1 points per game. In 1949-50, he played in 23 of the Aggies’ 24 games, averaging 5.5 points per game.
He was a member of the Aggies’ fish squads in both baseball and basketball as a freshman in 1947-48.
Moon spent 10 years as the baseball coach and athletic director at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., and was inducted into the institution’s Golden Eagle Hall of Fame in 2014.
Other baseball related stops included one season as a hitting coach for the San Diego Padres in 1969 and three minor league managerial stints. He had a brief stint as the owner-manager of the San Antonio Dodgers. After a brief hiatus in the real estate business in the 1980s, Moon returned to baseball for two stops as a minor league manager, including two years with the New York Yankees’ Class A Prince William Yankees (1987-88) and two years with the Baltimore Orioles’ Class A Frederick Keys (1990-91). He skippered the Keys to the Carolina League title in 1990. He served as a hitting instructor in the Orioles’ minor league system until retiring in 1995.
Moon is also a 1969 inductee in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Upon his retirement, Moon and his wife Bettye returned to Aggieland to live in Bryan.
Texas A&M Baseball Head Coach Rob Childress...
“It’s a truly sad day for Texas A&M, Texas A&M Athletics and, certainly, Texas A&M Baseball. He was the very best to wear the Maroon & White. He was a true legend and a great friend.”
Former Texas A&M Baseball Head Coach Mark Johnson...
“When Tom Chandler introduced me to Wally Moon in 1982, I was absolutely thrilled. He was one of my heroes, and I had used his Louisville Slugger model bat in college. Over the years he’s been a humble, gracious friend to me. We hunted dove together and told baseball stories. He dropped pretty impressive names on me! We lost a giant of a man.”
Texas A&M Baseball Radio Play-By-Play Announcer Dave South...
“My interview with Wally Moon was the best baseball interview that I ever recorded. He was gracious enough to sit down with me a few years back to record an interview on his time at Texas A&M and then his years in major league baseball. Texas A&M was important enough that after he signed with the Cardinals, he requested and was granted the right from St. Louis to complete his education before reporting to camp. Wally Moon was a walking encyclopedia about baseball – someone who was a roommate with Stan Musial and a teammate of Sandy Koufax. Mr. Moon's interview drew more positive comments than any aired before or since on the Aggie radio broadcast.”