The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
First things first. You cannot tell the story of the Angels without telling the story Donnie Moore and “The Donnie Moore Game” – Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS playoffs. The tragic consequences of that game are recounted time and again and are enmeshed in this team’s history. In the 2002 “Adam Kennedy Game” National broadcaster Tim McCarver kept bringing up Moore’s suicide – those Game Fives are truly two sides of the same coin.
In 1989 Donnie Moore shot his wife and then himself. She survived. He didn’t. He was rumored to have gambling debts and when teammate Reggie Jackson was asked if it were true that Moore had called him and asked him to cover a hundred thousand in losses and the Reggie had declined, All Reggie told the reporter was “If that was all he had asked for I would have lent it to him.”
Donnie Moore came to the Angels late in 1985, (late in his career) and immediately achieved dominance as a bullpen stud. He had 31 saves and a 1.92 ERA in 65 appearances that season, but he was also 8-8, never infallible. In 1986 he pitched 72+ innings and had 21 saves with a fabulous 2.97 ERA, going 4-5. He was 32 years old, but he had taken the team to one game off a division a title the year before and was there to close out winning the West in September of 1986.
There are a million recountings of the sad tale of being one strike away from the world series only to see a Donnie Moore pitch sail over the centerfield fence. It was unfortunate, but only feels hexed in hindsight. The game bounced a few ways and could have gone ours more times than not, but it didn’t. It was, however, a team loss. We tied it to take it to extras and then blew it, all without Moore.
It was Donnie Moore’s rapid decline as a reliever that made him the locus for residual frustration over the 1986 ALCS defeat. One of the ugliest things I have ever seen was Donnie Moore walking off the mound after blowing a lead in a 1988 home game. The crowd booed angrily, and Moore sulked, slunked and practically melted into the dugout, pitiful beyond redemption. And as we were all to find out in the Summer of 1989, he took his work home with him – or at least that is how legend has it. Seems upon careful analysis, Donnie’s life had fallen apart from a variety of problems, most of which revolved around being too injured to pitch (and therefore earn a living). One pitch in October of 1986 did not kill him, as narratively perfect as it sounds. But the tale has been grafted onto the franchise forevermore.