Ben Moore batted .251 with 11 doubles, three home runs and 28 RBIs in his two seasons with the Southern Illinois Miners. (Photo courtesy of the Southern Illinois Miners)
CULLMAN – Former Cullman Bearcats great Ben Moore (2011) is heading out west. Moore got the call from the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this month that he would be heading to Arizona for spring training before landing at the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City in April.
Moore wasn’t expected this new opportunity to come his way and talked about his interactions with the Dodgers and his independent league manager, Mike Pinto, in the lead-up to his signing.
“A couple of weeks ago I got a text message from my independent ball manager asking me to call him, so I reached out to him and he told me that he had been in contact with someone in the Dodgers organization that asked him about me. At that point that was all I really knew, and he said he’d get back in touch with me. A few days went by and I didn’t hear anything so I kind of brushed it under the rug and didn’t think much about it until last Sunday night when I got a call from my independent ball manager,” Moore said. “He had just gotten off the phone again with the catching coordinator for the Dodgers and they had talked for some time about me and what they were looking for. He told me that they should get in contact with me in the next day or so, and that following Monday I got a text from the assistant farm director of the Dodgers, so I called him, and he offered me a spot to come play.”
After suffering a knee injury while playing for the Southern Illinois Miners last season, Moore believed his playing days were over and he prepared to take on a new role as a graduate assistant with the baseball team at the University of Alabama, where he played in college. Moore’s not sure exactly how often he’ll be in the lineup; he is just excited to extend his playing career with a great organization.
“The official role is going to be as a backup catcher, and I don’t know how much playing is going to be involved with that, but just the opportunity to get back into affiliated ball and go to Triple-A and be part of the Dodgers organization was too good to pass up,” Moore said. “I was playing independent ball last year and I tore my ACL and decided that it was time to move on and start a new chapter, so I came back here to school and to help out with the baseball team, but I guess God had other plans.”
Moore spent two years playing in Marion, Illinois for the Southern Illinois Miners, batting .251 with 11 doubles, three home runs and 28 RBIs in his 101 games as the Miners’ starting catcher. In his time in Marion, Moore was also honored with the annual Frontier League’s annual Fran Riordan Award. The award recognizes a league player who exhibits outstanding citizenship in the community.
Moore said he enjoyed his time with the Miners and forged relationships with people that will always mean a lot to him.
“Marion is a small-town kind of like Cullman, so it was pretty easy to fit in and feel comfortable there. The baseball team is a big part of Marion. The whole town loves it and we get a lot of people at our games so as far as independent baseball goes. I’m willing to bet that Southern Illinois is one of the best places in the country,” Moore shared. “They take care of us; we’ve got great facilities and I was extremely lucky to get to play there. In the last two years I got to know a great group of people, from the coaching staff to the front office and my teammates. I made relationships with guys that I still keep in touch with today and I’m sure I will for a long time.”
This past week has been an exciting one for Moore. After deciding to hang it up and start a new chapter after baseball, this new opportunity has made him as excited to play as ever before.
“Going from a place where I decided to be done and walk away and then (to) have this opportunity come up, it’s definitely a gift and my perspective is definitely different this time around. The first time it was about playing well so I could make it, and now I’m really just happy to be there,” Moore smiled. “(I) just want to enjoy my time there, and if I play, I play, and if I don’t, I don’t, but I’m just going to enjoy this opportunity no matter what happens and have fun with it. It’s kind of a no-pressure situation, I’ve got nothing to lose and I’m just on borrowed time I guess,” he joked.
Moore heads out to Arizona for spring training this week to kick off his career with the Dodgers, and he believes this will be an invaluable experience for him regardless of how much he is on the field.
“I’ll go to spring training out in Arizona for a few weeks until that first week of April and then we’ll break camp and go to our affiliates. The Triple-A affiliate for the Dodgers is in Oklahoma City, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t heard much about Oklahoma City yet, but I heard they do pack out the stadium so that’ll be fun,” Moore said. “I’ll be in a back-up catcher role catching bullpens, helping out and working closely with the catching and pitching staffs. It’ll be good experience on the playing end, but I’ll also be around people who know the game at that high level, and the impact that could have for me going forward whether it’s in coaching or baseball, who knows. Just everything about this opportunity, I feel like is setting me up for success going forward in whatever I decide to do.”
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