You heard right! Moses was seen on the pitching mound at the venerable Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum! It all happened one weekend when the 1989 A’s hosted the 89 Twins for a three game series in this master game season replay. In a series plump full of offense, it was a first time occurrence for me that fell into place that made this three game series memorable. Here’s how it may have transpired in real life….
In the opening game, Twins journeyman pitcher Roy Smith was in trouble early, and when Terry Steinbach connected for a first inning grand slam to trail 5-1 after the first inning, it would be the beginning of a long weekend in Oakland for
Twins manager Tom Kelly, and sidekick Dick Such, pitching coach for Minnesota. To Kelly’s dismay, Such’s advice to leave Smith in backfired following two scoreless innings. A Brian Harper error and a two-run double by Dave Parker was enough for Kelly to yank Smith in favor of one of Kelly’s right hand men, Señor Smoke himself, Juan Berenguer. “Just another reminder that I’m in charge here, Dick,” said Kelly to Such. “Sit back and watch some real pitching,” despite trailing 8-2
while Kelly vehemently held Berenguer’s infamous briefcase in the dugout. Two innings, six hits, and four runs allowed later, Kelly was even at a loss for words as faith in his pitching coach was somewhat rekindled. “Well, it’s obvious El Gasolino ain’t got it today,” Kelly mumbled to Such. “We’re down 11-3….who can help stop the bleeding?” Such suggested bringing in the young lefty David West, who was recently acquired in the Frank Viola trade with the Mets.
West proceeded to throw a scoreless 6th inning, which did in fact provide the Twins some refuge from the Oakland offense. In the bottom of the 7th, the boiling point inevitably came to fruition in the visitor’s dugout. With Jose Canseco on first with two outs, Tony LaRussa elected to pinch hit righty reserve Billy Beane in favor of Cobra, who was 4-4 with 3RBI.
Beane stepped up against West and hammered an 0-1 breaking ball to stratightaway center over Kirby Puckett’s glove for a monstrous 2-run homerun, Beane’s first round tripper of the season. As the Coliseum crowd roared when Beane rounded third waving to the fans, Kelly said an undisclosed amount of expletives as Such quietly made his way to the clubhouse. Kelly then stood out in front of the dugout and faced the fans above the Twins dugout while his team came off the field following the 7th inning. Kelly asked, “Who here wants to pitch for us today? Anybody?”
That’s when a deep, sharp, penetrable voice pierced through the crowd and grabbed Kelly’s attention. “Moses,” said the voice. “Put in Moses!” The voice was none other than
Yul Brynner, the man who played Rameses II in the classic film The Ten Commandments. Kelly responded. “Moses? Put in John Moses? But he’s an outfielder! Are you kidding me?” As quickly as Kelly questioned the voice, it replied by saying, “So it shall be written….so it shall be done!” That was all Kelly could hear, and as soon as the voice arrived, it disappeared. “I think I need a vacation,” Kelly murmured to himself. Then, while the Twins batted in the top of the 8th, Kelly strolled down shouted to the end of the bullpen where Moses
was working on sacrifice bunts with Tim Laudner. “Jonny Boy….yeah….you Moses. Put your bat away right now. Take the ball out to the mound for the 8th. You’re pitching!” With that, Moses scampered out to the hill to the delight of the A’s fans and his Twins teammates. Despite the deck seemingly stacked against him, divine intervention prevailed as Moses took the A’s down 1-2-3 in the 8th, ending his night with a Lance Blankenship strikeout. The Twins notched two runs in the 9th but Oakland won easily 13-5 in the series opener. On the way back to the clubhouse, the beleaguered Twins congratulated Moses on his performance. “You done good, Jonny,” Kelly said as he patted Moses on the back while lighting up a cigar in the dugout. “Why did you put me in, Tom?” was all Moses could ask. “Two words for you, Jonny – NO COMMENT!”
Moses did make one pitching appearance in 1989, hurling a scoreless mining at Fenway, a game I remember watching as a kid, growing up a Twins fan. Since this particular game was a mirror image of a slowpitch softball game, and Minnesota was on the wrong side of the scoreboard, the time was right to use a position player as a pitcher, something I’d never done in APBA before. The A’s continued their assault on Minnesota pitching the next two games. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much offense by one team in a three game APBA series in my life. Rickey Henderson had grand slams in both games, and with the sweep of the Twins, Oakland is now 80-44, five games ahead of the California Angels.