At the turn of the 19th Century, it was not unusual for athletes to play multiple sports, but few had careers that crossed so many positions and responsibilities than Charlie Moran. A gifted athlete, he was born 143 years ago today on February 22, 1878, in Nashville.
He began his career in 1902 with three minor league teams: Dallas of the Texas League, and Little Rock and Chattanooga of the Southern Association.
He played in parts of two seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, pitching in three games and playing one game at shortstop in 1903, and returned as a pitcher for the same club in 1908. It may have been a five-year hiatus, but he was not idle.
In between, he managed and played for Dallas in the Texas League in 1903 (a team which included future Hall of Fame member Branch Rickey) and 1904, then moved to Galveston in the South Texas League for the 1905 season.
Moran toiled as pitcher and catcher for Cleburne of the Texas League in 1906; another future Hall of Famer, Tris Speaker, was on the club. He played in Grand Rapids of the Central League in 1907 before making his second journey to St. Louis and splitting time with the Cardinals and Savannah of the South Atlantic League in 1908.
He did not stop there, as he went to Milwaukee of the American Association in 1909, back to Dallas in 1910, and split time with Montgomery of the Southern Association and Dallas again in 1911. In 1912 he was out of baseball, but returned in 1913 with Brunswick (Georgia) in the Empire State League and back to the Texas League with Austin in 1914.
Out of baseball for the next two years, Moran became an umpire in the Southern Association before becoming a major league umpire in 1918. His career as arbiter would span 21 seasons and 3,181 games in the National League, and 18 World Series games over four years. In his final World Series game, he was the first base umpire in the fourth game of the New York Yankees’ sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Gehrig’s last appearance in the World Series.
He ejected a player, manager, or coach 98 times. Fresco Thompson of the Phillies, Charlie Grimm of the Cubs, and Burleigh Grimes once each as manager of the Cardinals, Cubs, and Dodgers, each fell to Moran’s wrath. He tossed Bill McKechnie three times, too; in 1918 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and again in 1930 and 1935 as manager of the Braves.
He umpired his final game on October 1, 1939, a 3-2 Brooklyn win over Philadelphia in Ebbets Field.
Since he was a multi-talented athlete, Moran had no problem coaching and playing football, too. He played one season with the University of Tennessee in 1897 before transferring to Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee for two years, in 1898 and 1899. He was the head football coach at the University of Nashville (1900-1901) and Dallas Athletic Club (1902-1903) and moved to College Station Texas A & M as the football coach for five seasons (1909-1914) where he also coached the baseball team.
He served as football trainer at Carlisle in 1915, then resumed his head coaching duties at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky for six seasons beginning in 1917 where had a career record of 42-6-1.
On October 29, 1921, he directed Centre to a 6-0 upset of Harvard, a team that had been unbeaten in two seasons.
He left to become head coach at Bucknell for three seasons beginning in 1924, then was hired as head coach for the Frankford Yellow Jackets of the National Football League. He spent one season with the club and was out of football before becoming head coach at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he remained for four seasons.
Known as “Uncle Charlie” by his friends, he retired to his farm in Horse Cave, Kentucky in 1939, where he died on June 14, 1949, at the age of 71.
Baseball and football were his sports of choice, but with his determination it is not unimaginable he could have taken on any sport and succeeded.
© 2021 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.