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Rogelio Moret

October 17, 2017

Rogelio MoretBaseball cards freeze things in place. I guess I first sensed this in 1974. I was six and learning that nothing stays frozen in place. We’d moved to a new state, away from my father. I found I liked baseball cards. I liked things that stayed the same.

Rogelio Moret’s 1974 card freezes him in place at the moment when he was, in teammate Bill Lee’s eyes, “headed for the mountaintop.” He’s just 24 years old here, fresh off his first full season in the majors, in which he went 13 and 2 with a 3.12 earned run average. “Roger had the potential to be a Sandy Koufax,” Lee said. “When he threw the ball over the plate, he was unhittable.”

I never saw Moret play, so he was only a figure frozen in place on a baseball card, and then he was a name that was gone from my favorite team, and then, strangely, changed, as if not even your name can stay the same. He was somewhere else, someone else: “Roger” Moret. With the Red Sox he was Rogelio, but he was only with them through 1975. From then on, as I watched the Red Sox come close but fall short, undone by shoddy pitching, and as I sifted continually through the cards I had, including this one, Rogelio Moret was some fixed idea, frozen in time, the very element the Red Sox were missing. According to his cards, he almost always won. In fact he was the Red Sox all-time career leader in winning percentage until Pedro Martinez surpassed him. I couldn’t understand why they’d let him go.

I also didn’t know until years later what happened to him afterward, when he was on the Texas Rangers. In 1978, before a game, he froze in place in front of his locker. He was naked and holding a flip-flop in one hand. No one could talk him out of his catatonic state, which went on for 90 minutes, until the team medical staff sedated him, and he was taken to the Arlington Neuropsychiatric Center. He rejoined the team later in the year and pitched sparingly, and that was it for his time in the majors. It wasn’t the first time he’d had trouble in the blurrier world outside the clear borders of the diamond, and it wouldn’t be the last.

According a Facebook page for someone who seems to be an older version of the rail-thin young man pictured here, Rogelio Moret now lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He only posted twice on that page, the last time back in 2012, but I also found a photo of him on Twitter from 2015 at a ballgame in San Juan. He looked happy.

I hope he’s OK. I’ve always hoped he was OK, even as far back as 1974 when I got this card and wondered why, despite his poise, his balance, his alert focus, his shimmering, impeccable numbers, he seemed a little sad and lonely.

2 comments

  1. Didn’t know all that about him. Wow.


  2. Thanks, Josh. I never knew that about Moret. Hopefully he escaped the hurricane intact.



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