Donnie Ray Moore (February 13, 1954 – July 18, 1989) was a relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Chicago Cubs (1975, 1977-79), St. Louis Cardinals (1980), Milwaukee Brewers (1981), Atlanta Braves (1982-84) and California Angels (1985-88).
A native of Lubbock, Texas, Moore is unfortunately most remembered for the home run he gave up as an Angel during Game Five of the 1986 American League Championship Series with only one more out needed to clinch their first pennant, and subsequently received the majority of the blame for his team failing to enter the 1986 World Series after the Red Sox came back and won. Moore, who had long battled depression, was dealt a severe mental blow from this event, and sports fans and the sports media never forgot it.
After saving only nine more games in 41 appearances over the next two seasons, Moore was let go by the Angels and the Royals, ending his 14-year career in baseball. On July 18, 1989, the events of October 12, 1986, and his battle with alcoholism, drug abuse, and severe depression finally overcame him. He committed suicide (after trying to kill his wife) in Anaheim, California, at age of 35.
ALCS Game Five
The game took place on October 12, 1986 in Anaheim. California held a 3 games to 1 lead of a best-of-seven against the Boston Red Sox. In the game, the Angels held a 5-2 lead going into the ninth inning. Boston scored two runs on a hit by Wade Boggs and a home run by Don Baylor, closing the gap to 5-4.
When Moore came in to shut down the rally, there were two outs, and a runner on first base, Rich Gedman, who had been hit by a pitch. The Angels were one out from getting into the World Series. But Dave Henderson hit a 2-2 pitch off Moore for a home run, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. The Angels were able to score a run in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the game into extra innings.
- "The pitch . . . Deep to left and Downing goes back. And it's gone! Unbelievable! You're looking at one for the ages here. Astonishing! Anaheim Stadium was one strike away from turning into Fantasyland! And now the Red Sox lead 6-5! The Red Sox get four runs in the ninth on a pair of two-run homers by Don Baylor and Dave Henderson." -- Al Michaels, ABC-TV.
Moore continued to pitch for the Angels. He was able to stifle a 10th inning Red Sox rally by getting Jim Rice to ground into a double play. Nevertheless, the Red Sox were able to score off Moore in the 11th-inning via a sacrifice fly by Henderson. The Angels could not score in the bottom of the 11th, and lost the game 7-6.
The defeat still left the Angels in a 3 games to 2 advantage, with two more games to play at Fenway Park. However, the Angels were not able to close it out, losing both games by wide margins, 10-4 and 8-1. And so the pitch that Moore gave up for a home run, the point at which they were closest to advancing to the World Series, was ultimately blamed for the shortcoming.
Baseball is a team sport: games and series are not won or lost by single players. But Moore unwittingly became associated with the loss of the pennant, in much the same manner that Bill Buckner became associated with the Red Sox' subsequent loss of the World Series.