In the long line of managers that have graced the dugout of the Detroit Tigers, there are those who can claim to have had more of an impact on the team from its minor league system than from the major league level. Though Sparky Anderson will be credited as the manager who led the Tigers to glory in the 1980's, there was another man who was instrumental in delivering the talent that set the stage for the World Series championship. That man was John Lester "Les" Moss. On September 7, it was reported that, last week at the age of 87, he passed away.
Moss spent 13 seasons as a professional catcher, finishing his playing career in the Chicago White Sox organization. In his post-playing years, he went on to become a manager for the team's farm system before making his debut in the big league dugout.
In 1975, Moss was hired by the Detroit Tigers as a Minor League manager. In that capacity, he led the Montgomery Rebels to two Southern League championships in 1975 and 1976. He then transitioned to the Evansville Triplets, where he was instrumental in converting Lance Parrish from third base to catcher, where he would excel in the major leagues.
After the 1978 season, which included the honor of being named Sporting News and American Association "Minor league Manager of the Year," Moss succeeded Ralph Houk as Detroit Tigers manager in 1979. His tenure would be brief, however, as a recently-fired Sparky Anderson would be hired to lead Detroit for the next 17 seasons.
Though Detroit was not the final stop of his coaching career, it was, undoubtedly, his most successful. Moss was credited with influencing the careers of several of the best and brightest talents in Tigers' history, including Parrish, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris. He was known throughout baseball as a talented manager who could get the most out of his young prospects. He will be known in the annals of Tigers history as the man who helped develop and foster the players that garnered one of the greatest seasons in baseball history. The season of 1984 would not have happened without the guidance of "Les" Moss.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.
- Sports & Recreation
- Detroit Tigers
- Sparky Anderson