Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don Mossi

If you weren't around during the 1950s and 1960s, you really can't fully appreciate how recognizable this guy was to baseball fans. Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods has a wonderful post about Mossi, who was a very good relief pitcher and one of the less handsome men ever to play in the bigs. He was lights out with Cleveland against the Giants in the 1954 Series, with four innings of shutout ball over three games. Josh, being the class act that he is, credits another book for its dead-on description of Mossi and Indians' reliever Ray Narleski -- Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris, who used their gifts for figurative language and hypothetical riffs to sing of Don Mossi. In their seminal 1973 work, The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubblegum Book, Mossi is discussed in terms of his bullpen partnership with fellow Cleveland relief ace Ray Narleski, as if even years after his retirement the world was not quite ready to look upon Don Mossi alone:
[Narleski and Mossi] always reminded me of two small-town undertakers who, having found the world at large a particularly cold and hardhearted place to do business in, have banded together in a desperate and distrustful partnership for the purposes of mutual self-preservation. Narleski with his sly little-boy grin and the darting, fishy eyes of the small-time criminal handles the customer relations, and Mossi with his loving-cup ears and the dark hulking presence of one newly dead or resurrected does all the dirty work. (p. 64).
Josh also notes that Mossi's apparently a supremely nice guy and mentions that this 1966 card includes this note on its back about Mossi's rookie year -- “The vet reliever retired 27 straight batters in 8 relief appearances in 1954.”
But let's admit the real reason we remember Mossi. Bill James, of all people, called him "the complete, five-tool ugly player” from his short article on the subject in his Historical Abstract, along with saying this about the face of Mossi:
Mossi’s ears looked as if they had been borrowed from a much larger species, and reattached without proper supervision. His nose was crooked, his eyes were in the wrong place, and though he was skinny he had no neck to speak of, just a series of chins that melted into his chest. An Adam’s apple poked out of the third chin, and there was always a stubble of beard because you can’t shave a face like that. He looked like Gary Gaetti escaping from Devil’s Island. (p. 245)


Blogger Cliff said...

He is a beaut. Here are some more of his cards:


1:15 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home