Dec 13, 2014

Former A.L. MVP & Short Time Met: Mo Vaughn (2002-2003)

Maurice Samuel Vaughn was born on December 15, 1967 in Norwalk, Connecticut.

He is a cousin to former MLB player, four time All Star Greg Vaughn who played 15 seasons Greg with Milwaukee (1989-1996) San Diego (1996-1998) Cincinnati (1999) Tampa (2000-2002) & Colorado (2003) hit 355 HRs with 284 doubles 1072 RBIs & a .242 average.

The six foot one, 220 pound Mo Vaughn, went to high school in Pawling, New York starring in baseball. Mo attended Seton Hall University in South Orange New Jersey & was a teammate of future MLB All Star Craig Biggio.

In his freshman year he was named the Big East Freshman of the year with 28 HRs & 90 RBIs. After another successful sophomore season, his numbers dropped as pitchers began to pitch around him more.

He was still a top prospect & was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Boston Red sox as a first baseman, the 23rd pick overall. He hit 22 HRs at AAA Pawtucket in 1992, his second year in the monors & the next year got his MLB call up.

Vaughn became the Red Sox regular first baseman in 1992 playing in 113 games with 13 HRs & a .234 average. In 1993 he began to emerge as big name player with 29 HRs with 101 RBIs. After an injury limited him to 111 games the following season he returned to have two monster seasons.

In 1995 he won the AL MVP Award, making his first All Star team, leading the league in RBIs (126) with 39 HRs 28 doubles 3 triples a .300 batting average, a .388 on base % & even 11 stolen bases. He also led the league with 150 strikeouts and would strike out over 150 times the next three seasons. In the post season he went 0-15 against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.

The next season he put up even bigger number during baseballs inflated stats era; 44 HRs (4th in the AL) 143 RBIs (3rd in the AL) 207 hits (4th in the AL) 29 doubles, a .420 on base % & a .326 batting average (10th in the AL). The big numbers continued the next two years as well, batting over .300 and putting up on base percentages over .400% for the fourth time during his big years in Boston.

In 1998 his last season in Boston, he made his last All Star team, hit 40 HRs with 31 doubles 115 RBIs & a .402 on base % (6th in the AL). In that year’s ALDS he hit two HRs in the Red Sox Game #1 11-3 victory, overall he batted .412 with seven RBIs against the Cleveland Indians in that series.

He did a lot of charity work and was a pretty popular player in Boston at first, but he soon had issues with the media & the front office. He kept saying the conservative Sox didn’t want him around because he was outspoken.

Some of his drama included punching a guy out at a night club in Boston & a car accident after leaving a strip club in Rhode Island. After the 1999 season he signed a two year deal as a free agent with the Anaheim Angels. In his first season there he hit 33 HRs with 108 RBIs but his batting average fell to .281.

In 2000 he hit 36 HRs with 117 RBIs & a .272 average. Vaughn missed the entire 2001 season due to injury & his bat was missed in the Angels line up. Mets GM Steve Phillips wanted Vaughn badly as he was rebuilding the team with the additions of Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz & the return of Roger Cedeno.

Phillips brought Bobby Valentine a Connecticut resident, as well as some Mets brass to Connecticut to watch Vaughn hit off a tee. It was risky but the GM was convinced Mo was ready to play again. The Vaughn trade & the previously mentioned Mets additions all led to Phillips firing as they all failed.

After Christmas in 2001 Mo Vaughn was traded to the New York Mets for Kevin Appier. The Mets took a gamble hoping he could return to his MVP form of a few years ago & hit some long HRs at Shea Stadium.

When he left California Angels closer Troy Percival said "We may miss Mo's bat, but we won't miss his leadership. Darin Erstad is our leader." The mild mannered Vaughn exploded saying the Angels haven’t ever won anything big, so they should shut up. Of course that was the year they went on to win their first World Series.

Mo Vaughn started out hitting a HR in the second game of the season & was batting .311 at the end of April. In June during an interleague game against the Kansas City Royals, a Joe Randa error in the bottom of the 9th inning made Vaughns ground ball the game winner as the final run scored. The next month on July 26th, Vaughn's single in the bottom of the 9th was the walk off game winning hit against the Cincinnati Reds.

One of his biggest highlights on the season was hitting a three run HR off David Wells on Sunday Night Baseball helping the Mets take two of three games in the Subway Series against their cross town rivals.

At All Star break he had only 10 HRs & was hitting just .250 as the press ate him up & the fans began to boo him. It was clear the Mo Vaughn deal wasn’t going to work out. The Mets had been to the World Series two seasons before & wanted a return trip to the post season.

There were big expectations for Vaughn & company to fill, and they could not deliver. In late September the big guy hit one of Shea Stadiums longest HRs as he belted one into the large Bud sign on the huge Shea Stadium right field scoreboard.

Mo ended the year at .259 with 26 HRs & 72 RBIs (both second on the club to Mike Piazza) & 18 doubles, striking out 145 times. After just 27 games in 2003 a knee injury ended his season & his 12 season playing career.

He finished with a lifetime .293 batting average 1620 hits 328 HRs 270 doubles 1064 RBIs 725 walks 1429 strikeouts & & .383 on base%.

Retirement: After his playing days Vaughn started up a company called OMNI NY LLC.
The company rehabilitates & manages distressed properties in the New York metropolitan area while offering affordable housing. The company is also involved in projects in Boston, Miami, Las Vegas & Cheyenne.

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