As a rookie starting center fielder for the 1935 Cardinals, Terry Moore struggled initially to live up to lofty expectations. What sealed his status as a premier big-league player was a flawless hitting performance that went unmatched by any Cardinals batter for the next 70 years.
On Sept. 5, 1935, Moore had six hits _ a double and five singles _ in six at-bats for the Cardinals against the Braves at St. Louis. No other Cardinals player got six hits in a game until Skip Schumaker achieved the feat on July 26, 2008, with six singles in seven at-bats in 14 innings against the Mets at New York.
Moore’s six-hit game secured his role as an everyday player for the Cardinals. He played his entire 11-year big-league career with St. Louis, batting .280 with 1,318 hits in 1,298 games. A four-time all-star, Moore served in the military between two stints with the Cardinals (1935-42 and 1946-48). He four times led National League center fielders in assists and twice led in putouts.
On Aug. 27, 2016, Moore will join players Chris Carpenter and Joe Torre and executive Sam Breadon in being inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Moore was training for a career as a printer when he was discovered by a Cardinals scout in 1932.
He had a spectacular season in 1934, batting .326 with 213 hits in 154 minor-league games in the Cardinals’ system.
Frankie Frisch, St. Louis manager, declared Moore the everyday center fielder for the 1935 Cardinals, replacing veteran Ernie Orsatti.
Initially, Moore was a bust. He batted .132 (5-for-38) in April.
“He made mistakes in fielding the ball,” wrote W.J. McGoogan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He threw to the wrong base and seemingly he couldn’t hit big-league pitching.”
The Sporting News opined, “Much was expected of him _ more perhaps than any other lad of recent transition from the minors to the big line. Moore’s trail was marked with such superlatives and so many high hopes that the youngster didn’t quite live up to the blueprints during the early part of the season.”
Frisch has faith
Still, Frisch struck with the rookie. “He (Frisch) was impressed with his courage, his speed and style in the field,” The Sporting News observed.
Said Frisch to the Post-Dispatch: “What I like about him is that he’s always trying and he’s no alibi artist. When he makes a mistake, he knows it, but he doesn’t make the same mistake twice.”
Moore, who turned 23 in May 1935, entered August with a .251 batting average. Then, he got hot. Moore hit .419 (26-for-62) in August.
His strong hitting carried into September as the Cardinals battled the Cubs for the pennant.
On Sept. 5, a Thursday afternoon, Moore batted leadoff for the Cardinals against the last-place Braves before 2,700 spectators at Sportsman’s Park. The 1935 Braves were a dismal team. They would finish the season at 38-115 and their pitching staff would post a NL-worst 4.93 ERA.
Facing a former Cardinals pitcher, Braves starter Fred Frankhouse, Moore singled in the first inning and added a RBI-single in the second.
After Frankhouse yielded seven runs in two innings, Huck Betts, 38, relieved. Moore reached him for a RBI-double in the third and singles in the sixth, seventh and eighth.
Moore’s final line: 6-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Betts gave up eight runs in six innings. The Braves committed five errors, three by center fielder Wally Berger. The Cardinals collected 19 hits and four walks in a 15-3 victory. Boxscore
Good to great
Moore batted .329 (26-for-79) in September and finished his rookie season with a .287 batting average, totaling 131 hits in 119 games.
Said Frisch: “Moore is one of the greatest young ballplayers I have ever seen … I think you’ll see one of the greatest center fielders in the game within two more years.”
Frisch proved prophetic.
In his book, “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said, “Terry Moore was a great team leader as well as a great competitor and center fielder … Terry was a timely hitter who’ll be best remembered for his defensive plays, his ham-sized hands, accurate arm and ability to scoop up ground balls like an infielder. I’d like to have seen a defensive outfield of (Willie) Mays, Moore and (Joe) DiMaggio.”