Thursday, December 15, 2005

December 15th, 1967

Mo Vaughn Born

One year when I was six or seven my father woke me up very early so that he and I could go see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons being inflated. This is something of a minor New York tradition, arguably more of a "true" New Yorker kind of thing than stationing oneself in Times Square to watch the parade and half-freeze to death. Anyway, I mention this because watching those balloons being inflated is pretty much what is called to mind when one tracks the career progression of Mo Vaughn.

Vaughn was drafted out of Seton Hall (where he had been on a team with fellow Major Leaguers Craig Biggio and John Valentin) by the Red Sox and when first drafted Mo looked more or less like this. He spent only a short amount of time in the Red Sox system but did manage to pose for a photo at their Triple-A club, where you can see a bit of weight being added, especially around the face. In Mo's early days with the Red Sox, he was still relatively svelt, although by the end of his tenure (which included an MVP award in 1995) Mo had rather, well, inflated. Mo signed with the Angels after the 1998 season but suffered an injury in the season's first game to his ankle. Now off his feet, this gave Mo the chance to really show what he could do when mostly sedentary, and soon the svelt slugger was little more than a memory. After a pair of largely unsuccessful years with the Angels in which he failed to capture his performance from Boston, Mo missed the entire 2001 season with an injury and was traded to the Mets for the 2002 season. Having not played in a season, it was clear Mo had dedicated himself to a hard routine of eating, eating and eating. There was plenty of Mets' Mo to go around.

Appropriately enough, Mo's balloon like inflation ended in New York when knee injuries (in which the weight was, pardon the expression, no small factor) finally ended his career. Mo's preferred nickname was the "Hit Dog" but to me, he'll always be the Human Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon.

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