“Baseball has been berry berry good to me” is the iconic catchphrase of Chico Escuela, a character portrayed by comedian Garrett Morris in the 1970’s on the popular late night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.
While Morris’ Escuela said it as a joke, Oregon’s Joe Moore shares a lot in common with the fictional character. Baseball has done a lot for him. It has brought Moore accolades, praise, love, and most recently, an induction into the University of Findlay’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
On January 25, Moore was inducted along with five other former Findlay athletes in the school’s 40th Athletic Hall of Fame class. To say, the honor came as unexpected to Moore and his family would be an understatement, when University of Findlay assistant sports information director, Ron Ammons, called to inform him of his selection into the school’s hall of fame.
|At left, Findlay baseball player Joe Moore (Cardinal Stritch Catholic) with
college teammates Jack Katser and Brad Ammons, also a Stritch grad from
East Toledo. (Photo by Joe Thomas courtesy of Findlay Courier)
“My wife answered the phone and when we saw it was the [University of Findlay] calling, we assumed they were calling for some kind of financial contribution,” he said with a chuckle. “Luckily, Ron was able to get her attention before she hung up and informed me of the honor.”
The honor was a culmination of a youth and early adult life spent on baseball diamonds all over Northwest Ohio for Moore, who began playing the game as a boy growing up in East Toledo.
“I played every day with my brothers,” he said. “I was the youngest of five boys, and my father died when I was young. My brothers took on his role for me and I just followed in their footsteps.”
Moore attended Cardinal Stritch High School and was a two sport athlete in football and baseball. Originally, he was to attend Findlay to play football, but that was before fate intervened.
“The summer baseball team I was playing on qualified for the Connie Mack World Series in New Mexico. Baseball was always my favorite sport anyways, so I decided to report a week late to football camp so I could travel with my team.”
After Moore’s experience out West, he decided to pass on football and instead elected to pursue baseball at the collegiate level.
Moore tried out in the spring of 1971 and made the team as a second baseman. He did not play much his first two seasons, before finally getting to start during his junior year. Under the tutelage of Coach Homer Shadle, he had his best season during his senior campaign in 1974. Moore was named to the All-National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics team after recording four triples, three home runs, and 25 RBI during his final season along with many other accolades. He was also named team MVP that year.
The former Oiler was not just a standout on the baseball diamond, as he shined in the classroom as well. He received the President’s Scholar Athlete Award after graduating cum laude with a degree in History and a minor in Political Science.
After his collegiate career concluded, he continued to play for Dick Simon in a summer league with a team sponsored by Bernie’s Market and other teams that participated in summer leagues around Northwest Ohio.
Baseball even played a role in Moore meeting his wife, Donna. Moore was playing in 1978 in the Toledo Federation League, when a gtoup of his friends rented a RV to drive down to watch the Kentucky Derby. Moore and his teammates wanted to find something entertaining to do the evening before the race and took a tip from a local resident to go watch a band play in Jeffersonville, Indiana, which was right across the Ohio River from Louisville.
“After some liquid courage,” he said, “I finally got up enough gumption to introduce myself to my future wife. The rest is history. We were married a year later and have been for almost 35 years.”
Since then, Moore has been employed for the past 37 years at Spartan Chemical in Maumee, Ohio, and he and his wife have three adult children and one grandchild.
With his playing days long behind him, the last thing Moore was expecting was recognition such as being a hall of fame inductee.
“Usually the guys who get inducted continued playing after they were in college,” he said. “It has been 40 years, so I didn’t expect anything like this.”
Moore’s teammates remembered him for his humility and his great work ethic during his time at Findlay.
They were quoted as saying, “He was a talented second baseman, who never sought recognition. He always went about his business humbly and quietly.”
Moore credited his attitude to a central core belief.
“I always believed that in sports or life, if you perform the task in front of you to the best of your ability, you may not always win but you will never lose,” he said.
While four decades have passed since his collegiate days, Moore still remembers his days at Findlay fondly.
“I can honestly say the years I spent there were some of the best of my life,” he said. “I owe a lot too many people and I was just fortunate to be surrounded by good athletes and even better people.”