Wednesday, May 15, 2013

FACE TIME: 1955 TOPPS DON MOSSI





''Little pitchers have big ears.''

That's a proverb, not a comment on Don Mossi's cards, especially this one, his rookie issue. 

Mossi, at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, wasn't exactly a tiny pitcher, but he did have, ahem, enormous fleshy flaps hanging from the sides of his head. The proverb refers to children repeating things said by adults, the ''pitchers'' referring to those for serving liquids and their large handles.

Mossi's oversized skull-grabbers might have garnered the most attention during his 12-year career, but hear this: He was key component on the Indians' staff in 1954. Because the rotation was built around future Hall of Famers Early Wynn, Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser, Mossi had to play it by ear out of the bullpen, where he was a huge asset because he threw strikes.

He had to be grinning from ear to ear when they won the American League pennant that season. You could've heard a pin drop in their clubhouse after the Giants swept them in the World Series, but Mossi pitched in three of the games and didn't allow a run over four innings.

Hearing the call to start in '57, he won 11 games and became an All-Star, but probably plenty couldn't believe their ears when hearing the news because he had only six wins at the break.

In '59, after a trade to the Tigers, Mossi had his best season, going 17-9 with a 3.36 ERA. He won 15 more games with the Tigers in '61 and led baseball in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.91). Mossi was out on his ear by '65, retiring after battling an assortment of arm ailments.

Large ears supposedly are a sign of high intelligence, and Chinese fortunetellers say ears that stick out mean, among other things, that you're energetic and physical and prone to work outdoors. 

With fortunes and such, I tend to let it go in one ear and out the other.

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