SABR

Roger Moret

This article was written by Seamus Kearney.

Roger Moret (born Rogelio Moret Torres), streaked across the skies of Red Sox Nation during the early 1970s like a comet with a stutter step: often brilliant but sometimes wild. Possessing obvious talent, he had some difficulty in harnessing it. Once established with the Boston Red Sox in 1973, he alternated two excellent seasons with a mediocre one. Still, he was able to compile an admirable cumulative ERA (3.43) and a 41-18 record with the Red Sox, ranking him among the best pitchers of the decade for the Bostons. Twice he led the American League in winning percentage. Then he went away from us, traded first by the Red Sox then, slowly and tragically, leaving baseball and sliding into the dark morass of mental illness.

Born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, on September 16, 1949, Moret's mound presence was that of a tall, slender, even spindly, left--hander with a whip-like motion and a speedy fastball, mixed in with a decent curve and a good change-up. [1] He threw hard. Listed as 6'4" and 175 lbs, he says he was taller. [2]

Signed by the Red Sox out of high school as an amateur free agent in 1968 for a reported $8,000 bonus [3], he spent his first season in A-level minors with Winter Haven (Florida State League) in 1968 with a 6-6 record, improving in 1969 with Waterloo (Midwest League) to 12-6 in 25 games. His next three seasons alternated with the Red Sox and two levels of the minors, Pawtucket (AA, Eastern League) and Louisville (AAA, International League). [4] His 49-33 record in the minors revealed characteristics he would demonstrate in the majors: fewer hits allowed than innings pitched (7.94 per nine innings), more walks than usual (5.49 per nine innings) and a decent winning percentage (.598).

In the major leagues he logged a .635 career winning percentage in nine seasons derived from a 47-27 won/lost record with the Sox, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers. In his three full years with the Red Sox (1973-1975), he fashioned a 36-15 record. Moret's Fenway Park record of 18-7 was one of the very best records ever for a Red Sox lefthander. [5]

His first appearance with the Sox occurred as a September call-up in 1970, debuting in the major leagues on September 13 and pitching a perfect eighth inning in a 13-2 loss at Baltimore. In three games he posted a 1-0 record and an ERA of 3.24 in 8.1 innings. His first major league win occurred on his 21st birthday, against the Yankees on September 16th, pitching four innings of shutout ball in relief of Sonny Siebert. [6]

His first prolonged stint with the Red Sox came in 1971 when he compiled a 4-3 record with a 2.92 ERA. [7] He had two stretches with the Sox that year, sandwiching a productive season with Pawtucket (11-8, 3.15 ERA). Strangely, the first seven games he appeared in were losses for the Sox, including two losses for himself. He garnered his first 1971 win, a complete game, on August 21 against the Angels in Anaheim. He finished the year with a run of 4-1 including a shutout and four complete game victories.

1972 proved to be a forgettable year for Roger who spent most of the season with Louisville. He made the parent club after spring training but left for Louisville when he pitched ineffectually in three games with the Sox, all losses. He didn't pitch for the Sox the rest of the year and had a middling (9-6 with a 4.54 ERA) stint with Louisville. [8]

The 1973 season is when Roger's stardom seemed assured. Starting the season in the bullpen, he earned a win against the Indians on April 22. That was the first of 11 straight wins reeled off while also recording three saves before finally losing to the Indians on September 16th. He had good success against the Yanks this year on the way to an American League-leading win percentage of .867 during a 13-2 season. He beat the Yanks three times, including a Fourth of July 1-0 shutout at the tail end of a Red Sox double-header sweep of the New Yorkers at Yankee Stadium. [9]

Roger could not follow the success he had had in 1973, finishing 1974 with a 9-10 record and a 3.74 ERA. In the regular starting rotation during July/August, Moret amassed a 3-2 record with a 2.01 ERA that included an 11-inning complete game win against the Yankees on July 29. The highlight of his '74 season was a near no-hitter win with 12 strikeouts against the White Sox on August 21. Dick Allen hit a controversial infield single in the seventh inning for the only hit of the game. The win increased his record at the time to 7-5. Sox owner Tom Yawkey was so taken with Moret's performance that he gave him a new and improved contract. [10] nfortunately, after the near no-no, Roger finished the season on a 2-5 run.

Moret started 1975 in the bullpen picking up five wins and a save in relief and as a sometime starter before emerging as the fifth man in the rotation in late July. In fact, teammate Bill Lee thinks that the Red Sox really contended for the pennant when Moret entered the rotation. As a fifth starter, Moret's performance gave the other starting pitchers extra rest and the Sox "started winning left and right" according to Lee. [11]

Moret had two stints in the regular, five-man rotation, in which he pitched admirably--and often brilliantly. In a stretch of four starts, July 20--July 31, he collected three wins with one loss. One of his wins was again against the Yankees and contributed to their demise as a pennant contender. He pitched the second game of a doubleheader shutout sweep against them in their temporary home at Shea Stadium on July 27. The sweep effectively established the Sox as the team to beat in the American League East. [12]

In another period from August 11--September 15, Moret amassed six wins with two losses. In his September 6 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, he benefited from 20 runs scored on 24 hits by the Red Sox, both American League season highs for the year. His 14-3 record at the end of the season earned him his second American League-leading pitching win percentage with a mark of .824.

The lowpoint of Moret's 1975 season proved to be his strange trip back from New York City on the early morning of a scheduled start against the Orioles. He crashed his car into the back end of a stalled truck on the highway. Somehow he avoided serious injury but did suffer cuts on his head that required a visit to a hospital. [13] X-rays proved negative but the Sox would not allow him to pitch. In fact, the team was not pleased with either the incident or the publicity and called him to task on his behavior. The incident probably contributed to a doubting awareness in the Sox front office on whether he could be a Red Sox pitcher of the future.

Though added to the 1975 Sox playoff roster, Moret saw little game duty during the playoffs, but the little he saw loomed important in the outcomes. He became the winning pitcher in the second game against the Oakland A's when he pitched one inning of scoreless relief in his only appearance during the Red Sox' three game series sweep. He came into the game in the sixth inning with the score tied, a man on first and no outs. He retired two batters, gave up a double and then induced the final out on a grounder to short. The Sox went ahead in the bottom half, making Moret the pitcher of record.

In the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, he saw a little more action, and again at crucial times. He pitched five outs in 1.2 innings of work, facing 10 batters, giving up two hits while relinquishing three bases on balls with only one strikeout. Unfortunately, for him and the Sox, in the Game Three of the World Series he gave up a hit to Joe Morgan in the 10th inning that scored the winning run, awarding a 2-1 edge in the Series to the Reds.

In Game Six, after starter Tiant surrendered a leadoff eighth-inning homer to Cesar Geronimo, Moret was brought in from the bullpen and set down the Reds 1-2-3. Cincinnati had a 6-3 lead. With Moret due up in the bottom of the eighth and two Red Sox on base, Bernie Carbo was sent up to pinch-hit. He hit a game-tying homer into the centerfield bleachers.

In the decisive Game Seven of the Series, Moret relieved Bill Lee in the seventh inning with one out and a man on first. He faced four batters, getting one, walking one and giving up a run-scoring single to Pete Rose that tied the game. After Moret walked Joe Morgan, Sox manager Darrell Johnson called on Jim Willoughby to retire Johnny Bench. The Reds scored a run a couple of innings later, winning the game and the Series in the ninth..

His season and the Series over, Roger Moret would not appear in a Red Sox uniform again.

Years later in an interview with author Doug Hornig, Moret lamented that he didn't do well in the '75 World Series. However, he said he was upset that he was passed over for a starting pitching assignment in Game Three of the 1975 World Series. Moret still considered it his game to start, "I was ready. I could've beaten that team". [14]

During the off-season, on December 12, the Red Sox traded Moret to the Atlanta Braves for Tom House. Moret's record for the Sox far surpassed that of House's and from all measurable appearances it seemed like, and probably was, an uneven trade for the Sox. The single reason why they let him go so cheaply most likely stemmed from the aftermath of his early morning car ride back from New York City.

His one season with the Braves in 1976 began his slow slide from the major leagues. He pitched just 77.1 innings and his ERA ballooned to 5.00. Appearing in 27 games, only 12 of them starts, he posted a 3-5 record. It was the first season in the majors in which he gave up more hits than innings pitched.

In another December off-season transaction, the Texas Rangers acquired him from the Braves on December 9 in a multi-player trade that brought Moret and four others to the Texas team in exchange for power-hitting Jeff Burroughs and $250,000. Moret appeared to be a throw-in so the Braves could beef up their attack.

1977 proved to be a telling season for the slender lefthander. With the Rangers he logged a 3-3 record with another decent ERA of 3.73 (league average = 4.11) in 18 games, only eight of them starts. Unfortunately, surgery to repair a circulation problem in his pitching arm limited his season's contribution to the Rangers. [15]

Moret's 1978 season was a disaster. His contribution to the Rangers' season proved minimal, though he earned his first save that year with another successful outing against the Yankees: four innings of relief in a 5-2 victory over the New Yorks, giving up four hits and one earned run. But, for the year, he appeared in seven games, pitching only 14.2 innings--and surrendering 23 hits, for an 0-1 record.

However, the real story for Moret in 1978 was his hospitalization at a psychiatric facility after his bizarre behavior on April 12 at Arlington Stadium. After some odd pre-game behavior, Roger Moret went into what was described as a catatonic state in front of his locker that reportedly lasted 90 minutes. [16] His teammates first kidded with him but as time went on the gravity of his condition brought the team's medical staff. Attempts to awaken him failed. The Rangers staff sedated him and dispatched him to the Arlington Neuropsychiatric Center. By the 25th of April, Roger's condition had improved and he was scheduled for release within a week.

His condition got better and he returned to the Rangers for several appearances in late May and the first half of June. His last appearance in the majors was a futile start against the Blue Jays at Arlington Stadium on June 16, 1978. He lasted a mere 1.2 innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs. Regrettably, he lost his last game in the bigs. [17]

Roger made a couple of other comeback attempts. He was invited to spring training in 1979 with the Rangers and in 1980 with Cleveland but never again pitched in the majors. [18] In 1981-82, Moret played in the Mexican League. In 1981, he pitched for Torreon, posting a 9-4 (2.42 ERA) record. In 1982, he split the season between Aquascalientes and Monclova with a combined 4-13, 4.40 ERA record.

Moret pitched for many years with the Santurce team in Puerto Rico until he was eligible for his major league pension. He now lives in Guayama, Puerto Rico near two family members. [19]

Note

A version of this biography was originally published in '75: The Red Sox Team That Saved Baseball, edited by Bill Nowlin and Cecilia Tan, and published by Rounder Books in 2005.

Notes

[1] Retrosheet web site

[2] Hornig, Doug, The Boys of October. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2003, p. 211

[3] Baseball-Reference.com

[4] TheBaseballCube.Com

[5] BaseballLibrary.Com

[6] Retrosheet web site

[7] BaseballLibrary.Com

[8] TheBaseballCube.Com

[9] Retrosheet web site

[10] BaseballLibrary.Com

[11] Hornig, op. cit., p.116

[12] BaseballLibrary.Com

[13] New York Times, 8/5/75, p. 33

[14] Hornig, p. 146

[15] New York Times, 4/25/1978, p. 33

[16] New York Times, 4/25/1978, p. 33

[17] Retrosheet web site

[18] Grossman, Leigh, The Red Sox Fan Handbook. Cambridge MA: Rounder Books, 2005, p. 197

[19] Hornig, op. cit., p.211

Sources

Books

Grossman, Leigh, The Red Sox Fan Handbook. Cambridge MA: Rounder Books, 2005

Hornig, Doug, The Boys of October. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2003.

Websites

BaseballLibrary.Com

BaseballReference.Com, Baseball Chronology

Retrosheet.Com

TheBaseballCube.Com

Newspapers

The New York Times

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