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02/03/06 9:00 AM ET

Moore nothing less than stellar at short

Some call Monarchs star best shortstop in Negro Leagues

Casey Stengel, one of the best managers in baseball history, gave Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Elston Howard their first big chance in the big leagues. But Stengel's biggest discovery may have come back in the early 20th century, when he recommended to Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson that he should sign a shortstop named Dobie Moore, who was playing for a military team in Arizona.

Wilkinson signed Moore and it paid off -- big time. Moore played in the Negro Leagues for only five-plus seasons, but five of those years were dominant.

From 1920-25, Moore was arguably the best shortstop in the league while playing for the Monarchs. He was Shawn Dunston on defense and Wade Boggs with the bat.

Moore had great range at shortstop. He would often grab a groundball deep in the hole and throw a strike to first base to get the runner.

"He was a superb shortstop. He could stand at deep short and just throw strikes all day long," said Negro League historian Phil Dixon. "He had a strong arm. Sometimes, his errors would be up because he would get to balls that no one else would get to. Easily, one of the greatest shortstops."

Offensively, Moore was the Monarchs' cleanup hitter and hit .325 or better from 1922-25. Moore's best season was in 1924, when he hit .453 with 10 home runs and a .694 on-base percentage. He would finish with a .365 batting average.

Moore also helped the Monarchs win three consecutive pennants. His best postseason performance came in '25. He hit .364 and led the team in hits and RBIs.

According to James Riley's "The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues," Moore was off to another good start in 1926, but his season and career came to an end when he was shot in the leg by a woman named Elise Brown. The bullet, according to Riley, broke two bones in six pieces. The injury forced Moore's double-play partner, Newt Allen, a great player himself, to move to shortstop that season.

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"The Monarchs never had another shortstop that was like Dobie Moore. Even though they had shortstops like Gene Baker, who could throw, they couldn't hit like Moore," Dixon said. "He is the greatest shortstop in the Monarchs' history."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.