The Moore Report: Baseball’s Best Midfielders and All-Major Centerfielders


Written by Ralph E Moore Jr.,
Special for AFRO


Sorry for dropping my name, but I mentioned to Adam Jones in a Zoom meeting the other day that all of my favorite baseball players were quarterbacks.

I loved watching baseball with my dad when I was a little kid. He would sit in his easy chair and I would be on the floor watching the matches.

One year, while watching a game every summer in Major League Baseball, Ralph E. Moore Sr. said to me, “Root the National League, son, they’ve got more nigger ballplayers.” And so I did.

Being aware of race and ethnic pride has become a very important part of me. That’s when I met Mr. Willie Mays who, at the time, played for the San Francisco Giants.

He was an exceptional baseball player – no one else could hit or catch like Mays. In fact, some say he once made the biggest catch in baseball history during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, playing for the New York Giants against the Cleveland Indians.

With eight innings and a 2-2 tie, with runners on first and second, Cleveland’s first baseman, Vic Wertz, hit the ball 400 feet to center field.

Mays came back and met the ball spectacularly over the shoulder. He launched the ball into the field and kept the score tied (the lead runner only got third base from second). The Mays’ Giants won that game 5-2 and eventually won four games plus the ’54 World Series. I was two years old at the time. By then, I knew who Mays was. He was already rapidly moving towards legendary status.

And so began my fascination with center fielders: Mays and Paul Blair of the Baltimore Orioles and Adam Jones and Cedric Mullins, who also played for Baltimore. I eventually embraced my hometown team because more blacks were playing in the American League, too.

Recently, Adam Jones was our featured speaker at the Frank Fisher Scholarship Dinner at Loyola Blakefield, my high school. Join us on Zoom from his current home in Spain. I had to tell him about my favorite football players and ask him why he chose the position he chose.

“It’s more difficult than other positions. Shortstop is very busy. For example, if you can handle shortstop, you can handle center field.”

Jones is calm and friendly when he talks. I heard him a few times when he was here in Baltimore. He has a weekly podcast known as The Adam Jones Show on 98.5’s The Sports Hub.

African American Loyola alumni gave their Black, Blue, and Gold award to Adam Jones at the aforementioned dinner for his highly inspiring sportsmanship and altruism. We also gave the award to Jones’ father-in-law, Jean Fugit, a local attorney and businessman who has inspired many black Catholics. Finally, we present Reginald A. Boyce (Loyola High School class of 1969) with a black, blue, and gold award for being a star athlete, Blakefield’s first Director of Diversity and an effective mentor to many young adults. By the way, Boyce also played center field.

Paul Blair played in the major league for 17 years after growing up in Los Angeles and distinguished himself as a high school player in baseball, basketball and track. 293 batting average in 1967. I remember he covered a lot of ground in old Memorial Field where he was known for his defensive skills.

Cedric Mullins hit the first 30/30 season in Orioles history in 2021. No one before him had hit 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. Some say the unique success that year may be attributed to his decision to bat left-handed only (. 291) when most outfielders were switch batting.

Mullins was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease during the 2020 baseball season, but he waited until the end of the season to have bowel surgery.

In the 2021 season, Mullins also had the distinction of being the starting quarterback in the MLS All-Star Game.

Mullins, 28, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina and has been in the big leagues since 2018. He started his professional career with the Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2015.

No matter how great Blair, Jones, and Mullins are at center field, it all started with Mays. Willie, “Say Baby,” Mays showed many that they can be the best and be nice at the same time.

I own a baseball autographed by Mays and will pass it on to one of my grandchildren one day as soon as I tell her or her who Mays is to me – a constant source of Black pride and identity for which I am very grateful.

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