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Almost a Tiger: On the field at Briggs



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March 13, 2013 - In 1961 the Detroit Tigers finished the season with a record of 101-61, second in the American League, eight games behind the New York Yankees. First baseman Norm Cash led the team hitting .361, following by outfielder Al Kaline who hit .324.

A box seat at Briggs Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers, cost $3.

That same year, Tiger Chief Scout Edward Katalinas invited an18-year-old Brandon Blackhawks pitcher to a try-out camp in Flint.

Doug Ellsworth Moors, a 6 foot-1 inch tall knuckleball pitcher who also starred in football and basketball for the Blackhawks, received the letter to attend the camp at Flint's Atwood Stadium.on July 10-11.

"Dad said they asked him to do sprints and watched him swing a bat," said Doug Glen Moors, son of Doug Ellsworth Moors. "They really took a good look at the athletic abilities of the players during the July tryout."

Doug Ellsworth Moors died in August 2003, but with opening day for the 2013 Tigers just a few weeks away, Doug Glen recalls the sports career of his father.

"He could hit a baseball 400 feet and there are stories of his knuckleball making hitters look really bad," he said. "After the tryout in Flint he was called back twice by the Tigers in 1961. Twice he went to Briggs Stadium (later named Tiger Stadium) for more scouting where he must have really impressed the coaches down there."

"Years later I tried to hit dad's knuckleball and it's like swatting flies," added Doug. "The ball would come in at about 70 mph and batters just could not pick it up—it was really erratic. Dad figured the scouts were interested in him because he did not blow the hitters away with a fastball. It was really different look for the team."

Born in 1944, Doug Ellsworth grew up in Ortonville the son of Glen and Noreen Moors. He had one sister, Joyce. In 1959 a Brandon School newspaper reports of Moors' ten strikeouts and giving up one hit in a 8-0 trouncing of rival Goodrich.

"Those who watched him play said he was beyond spectacular—dad was just born to hit a baseball," he said. "Dad used to say, 'You can't teach someone to hit; if you could, then Albert Einstein would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame."

In 1961 the Detroit Tigers top pitcher was 31-year-old ace Frank Lary who finished the season 23-9 with an ERA of 3.24.

"Dad talked about how the front office called him about a future with the Tigers," said Doug Glen. "He talked about being on the field at Briggs Stadium. The try-outs were going very well for him. But at some point he must have turned down becoming a Tiger. After the third tryout he just never went back."

Doug Glen speculates that while the chance of playing with Kaline, Cash and Freehan may have seemed at least a possibility for his father, the prospect of a minor league contract steered him away from the team.

"In the early 1960s, baseball was something you did in the summer," he said. "It was not a real job. Dad wanted to have a family and likely did not want to gamble on playing baseball—it was a gamble."

Rather than baseball Doug Ellsworth enlisted in the Army after high school in October 1961. He served three years in Korea then returned home for the Army Reserves until his discharge in September 1967. Doug Ellsworth worked for General Motors Truck and Bus plant in Pontiac.

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