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Tuesday, September 4, 2012
John Lester "Les" Moss (May 14, 1925 - August 29, 2012) was an American professional baseball player, coach, scout and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the St. Louis Browns for the most significant portion of his career.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Moss began his professional baseball career in 1942 at the age of 17, playing for the Americus Pioneers of the Georgia-Florida League. In 1943 he moved up to the Class A Elmira Pioneers of the Eastern League where he posted a .308 batting average in 96 games. He missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons while serving in the Merchant Marines. He would play for the Toledo Mud Hens in 1946, hitting .297 in 121 games before, being called up late in the season to make his major league debut with the Browns on September 10.
Moss platooned alongside left-handed-hitting catcher Jake Early in 96 games during the 1947 season. He caught the majority of the games for the Browns in 1948 while his hitting improved with a .257 average along with 14 home runs and 46 runs batted in. In 1949, the Browns acquired 24-year-old Sherm Lollar from the New York Yankees and, Moss became the second string catcher. Moss' hitting continued to improve with a .291 average and an impressive .399 on base percentage.
On May 17, 1951, Moss was traded to the Boston Red Sox. After producing a .198 batting average in 71 games for the Red Sox, he would be traded back to the Browns on November 28, 1951. He continued as the Browns' second string catcher backing up Clint Courtney. Moss was the Browns' catcher on May 6, 1953 when Bobo Holloman pitched a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1954, the Browns relocated to Baltimore where Moss played one full season in Baltimore before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in June 1955, where he once again served as a back up to Sherm Lollar. He played three more seasons with the White Sox before ending his major league career after 1958.
Moss returned to the minor leagues, appearing in two games for the Indianapolis Indians in 1959 and then, appeared in three games for the San Diego Padres in 1960, before retiring as a player at the age of 35.
In a 13 year major league career, Moss played in 824 games, accumulating 552 hits in 2,234 at bats for a .247 career batting average along with 63 home runs, 276 runs batted in and a .333 on base percentage. He ended his career with a .978 fielding percentage.