With a new baseball season just a fresh-mowed field and a couple of chalk lines away, it seems appropriate to pay homage to Picktown’s only Major League star.
Born in Pickerington in 1877, Earl Alonzo Moore was a 6-foot, 195-pound right-handed pitcher described by one turn-of-the-century sportswriter as "a big fellow with terrific speed."
He broke into the majors in 1901, the first year the American League existed as a major league, beginning his career with the Cleveland franchise (then called the Blues).
Moore pitched in the majors for 14 seasons, his career including stints with Cleveland (the Blues, Bronchos, and Naps) and the New York Highlanders in the American League, and the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs in the National League. He finished his career in 1914 with the Buffalo Buffeds of the short-lived Federal League.
Along the way, Moore accumulated 162 major league victories and more than a few nicknames.
As a young man, his strikeout prowess earned him the sound-alike moniker "Lon Mower." Later, as a pro, he answered to "Big Ebby" and "Steam Engine in Boots."
"Crossfire," however, may have been the best of his nicknames, for it perfectly described the pitching delivery that was his signature.
Moore pitched from the end of the pitcher’s rubber, throwing across his body with a side-armed motion that made his fastball more intimidating and gave his curveball more movement. He is credited with originating this unique style, and is arguably the greatest crossfire pitcher in Major League history.
So, just how good was Moore? He won 16 games his rookie year, throwing the first nine-inning no-hitter in AL history (too bad he lost both the no-hitter and the game in the 10th). He won 79 games in his first five seasons, going 19-9 in 1903 when he led the AL with a 1.74 ERA.
Coming back from a serious foot injury that cost him the better part of three seasons, Moore returned to glory with the Phillies, winning 18 games in 1909, and 22 games in 1910, the year he led the NL in strikeouts.
A Cleveland sportswriter once wrote that Moore’s fastball approached that of Cy Young in Cy’s best days. A Pittsburgh sportswriter noted that Honus Wagner hated to face Moore’s "crossfire" delivery. He said it "worried Wagner to within an inch of his existence."
Since both Young and Wagner are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s safe to say that when Moore was at his best, he was among the best.
Earl "Crossfire" Moore played life’s final inning Nov. 28, 1961.
Sources used in the research of this article:
"Earl Moore Player File," Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, N.Y.
"Earl Moore," by Tom Bunting, "The Baseball Biography Project"
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1901
"The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers," by Bill James and Rob Neyer
"The Sporting Life," 1901-1914