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Just a Game?
February 11, 2011 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Donnie Moore was the California Angels' relief ace in 1986. After he gave up a home run that began the Angels' collapse in the ALCS, Moore's life and psyche steadily deteriorated, until he committed suicide in 1989. Steve Hofstetter wrote about Moore and the divergent paths taken by other athletes in similar situations.
posted by reenum (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know why reams and reams of paper and sound bites are wasted on "oh, if only baseball and its fans had been there for him more, this might not have happened." I'm sorry, but someone who commits suicide has far bigger problems than not having a supportive employer.
posted by Melismata at 8:52 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surprised to read he actually shot his wife before he shot himself...
posted by Avenger50 at 8:53 AM on February 11, 2011


While I was never the daily beat writer, I covered the Angels in the early 90s. There was still some head-shaking and "wonder what we could have done more/better" thinking going on. My understanding is that while the team has gone through several wholescale changes since then (ownership has changed hands twice since Moore's time), it's a far, far healthier organization.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:04 AM on February 11, 2011


The number of sports suicides last year alone was daunting. I'm not sure what is going on here -- apparently, the expectations we put on sports players can be simply overwhelming.

In a bigger sense, I think this is another illustration of how difficult it really is to deal with fame and fortune.
posted by bearwife at 9:09 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, bearwife? What other sports suicides have happened in the past year?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:39 AM on February 11, 2011


I'm sorry, but someone who commits suicide has far bigger problems than not having a supportive employer.

Exactly. He could've been an astronaut or a corner boy. Either way, a built-in aversion to failure and a means to manage will lead down that road.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:53 AM on February 11, 2011


There is only a brief mention of alcohol and psychiatric issues in the stories. I've had huge successes and failures in my career (though never on TV, so yeah I'm not trying to claim I know what he was feeling) and that has never driven me to these kinds of thoughts like alcohol has. I don't understand the focus on one pitch when alcohol and/or psychological issues seem to be the problem here.

It's odd to me that baseball (which I love) is the biggest part of this tale when it should be much more focused on the suffering of this man and those he left behind - and possibly on what we can learn from him.

I may be reading it only from my perspective, so feel free to jump in and correct me.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:57 AM on February 11, 2011


Post-mortems on suicide are always full of conjecture. Why would any good writer would waste their time on trying to understand pain on an unknowable level? Donnie's situational dice were loaded and he went down. No pandering needed. But because no one else will do it I'll give Donnie his own period.
.

Say a prayer for his daughter if you do such things.
posted by Xurando at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2011


I'm pretty tired of one play or one game's performance being blamed for the downfall of an entire season. 1. Baseball is a team sport. 2. A baseball team has 162 games to get their shit together. 3. Any coach that bets an the success of an entire season on one play or one game is fail.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:48 AM on February 11, 2011


Surprised to read he actually shot his wife before he shot himself

I would have been more surprised if it had happened the other way around.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that has not been mentioned, either in the linked stories nor in the comments here, is that Donnie Moore played for the Cubs, and not just once but twice -- how can this not be seen at the very least as a contributing factor?
posted by dancestoblue at 1:52 PM on February 11, 2011


I'm sorry, but someone who commits suicide has far bigger problems than not having a supportive employer.

I think it's natural for people to question how this played out. Baseball isn't exactly a typical employer, like say the hotel down the street. And because it's in the public eye the employees are faced with stresses, say blowing the big game, that a typical work-a-day individual will probably never have to face. You may lament the wasted reams of paper and digital text but I think that had fans not treated him just-so and had baseball been paying better attention to the mental health of their players, that, yeah, this could've been prevented.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:29 PM on February 11, 2011


is that Donnie Moore played for the Cubs, and not just once but twice -- how can this not be seen at the very least as a contributing factor?

Jesus. Suicide jokes. 4chan is that way.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:30 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, bearwife? What other sports suicides have happened in the past year?

I was thinking of the Sports Illustrated round up of deaths last year. I read the magazine regularly, and that particular story caught my eye. (Sorry, I took a look at the website and wasn't able to bring up the story quickly, so I moved on.) I was struck by how many were suicides, particularly those of people who died relatively young in 2010. I don't know if 2010 compared well or badly in that respect to other years, and my google fu wasn't good enough to turn up information on the topic.
posted by bearwife at 4:51 PM on February 11, 2011


Note that the team which won, the 1986 Red Sox, had a little incident where a player missed a single play which changed the momentum of the series. The World Series, that is. Bill Buckner is alive and well, although he suffered quite the media blitz. Perhaps Donnie Moore couldn't handle the extended stress of a high profile career after something went wrong like that, but it wasn't one pitch that did him in by any means.

It's a pity whatever it was that happened to bring Moore to that point, but I'll save my dots for someone whose final act before shooting himself wasn't to shoot his wife.
posted by Saydur at 10:51 PM on February 11, 2011


The number of sports suicides last year alone was daunting. I'm not sure what is going on here -- apparently, the expectations we put on sports players can be simply overwhelming.

Ummm...he committed suicide in '89.

Also, yeah...if you pay someone millions of dollars, your expectations should be higher.

But also:
.
.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:20 PM on February 11, 2011


I'm pretty tired of one play or one game's performance being blamed for the downfall of an entire season. 1. Baseball is a team sport. 2. A baseball team has 162 games to get their shit together. 3. Any coach that bets an the success of an entire season on one play or one game is fail.
The length of the season is irrelevant. Moore gave up the home run during the playoffs, in a series from which only one of the two teams would advance to the world series. His team was one strike away from winning the series when he gave up the home run.

Admittedly, his team could have still won the series after that, so in some small sense your point is valid, but "gave up a home run while one strike away from winning the league championship series" is quite a bit different than "gave up a home run at some point during the regular season".
posted by Flunkie at 12:38 AM on February 12, 2011


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