Born: February 16, 1884
Died: September 21, 1954
John Herbert Moran was born February 16, 1884 in Costello, PA. Nicknamed Little Herbie, he stood 5’5” but had the speed and coordination to be a difference-maker in the sport of his choice, baseball. Herbie came from a working-class family, but his father was determined to give him any advantage he could. Around 1900, Herbie was sent to the Peddie School in Hightstown, where he earned a reputation as a ferocious competitor.
Herbie’s talents were recognized long before he arrived in New Jersey. He returned to Pennsylvania after graduating and began his minor-league career in 1905, in Coudersport, where his family lived. Two years later, he was flying around the outfield and base paths for Trenton, where he caught the eye of big-league scouts. He made his debut in the majors with the Philadelphia A’s in 1908 but returned to Trenton after hitting .153. In 1908, he played briefly with Boston’s NL team, then called the Doves. He finally stuck in the majors with Brooklyn, in 1912. In 1914, Herbie was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
Late in August, the Boston Braves were making an unlikely run at the pennant and were shopping around for outfield help. As luck would have it, Herbie had just beaten the Giants with a ninth-inning double, enabling the surging Braves to tie New York in the standings. Boston purchased Herbie on August 23rd and he hit .266 in 41 games as the left-handed half of an experiment by manager George Stallings that would later become known as “platooning.”
The Braves won the pennant and swept the A’s in a stunning World Series upset. Herbie started the three games pitched by Philadelphia righties and sat against lefty Eddie Plank. He played a deciding role in the pivotal Game 3 in Boston, a thrilling extra-inning affair. The A’s scored two runs in the top of the 10th but the Braves knotted the score on a solo homer and a run scored by Herbie. He singled off of Joe Bush and advanced to third on a single by Johnny Evers. He came home on a fly ball. Two innings later, with darkness descending on Fenway Park, the Braves put runners in first and second. Herbie came to bat with orders to bunt. He bunted toward the mound. Bush picked the ball up and tried to get the force at third, but his throw was wild and the runner came home. It was the first walk-off error in World Series history. The stands emptied in wild celebration.
After playing the entire 1915 season with the Braves, Herbie continued his baseball career in the minors. During the World War I he worked in a Virginia munitions plant. After the war, he played for and managed semipro teams. He never lost his speed, outrunning players 15 years younger well into his 30s. Herbie did some scouting before dropping out of baseball. He passed away from heart disease in 1954 at the age of 70.