Maurice Samuel 'Mo' Vaughn (born December 15, 1967 in Norwalk, Connecticut), nicknamed "Hit Dog, is a former Major League Baseball first baseman from 1991 to 2003. Vaughn won the American League MVP award in 1995 and was a key factor in the Boston Red Sox's 1995 and 1998 playoff teams.
He was noted for "crowding the plate"; his stance was such that his front elbow (protected by plastic armor) often appeared to be hovering in the strike zone, which intimidated pitchers into throwing wide and outside.
Very Early Career
Vaughn was given the nickname 'Mo' while attending Trinity-Pawling School in Pawling, New York. He was not actually born lefty but his grandmother, who raised him, was lefty and taught him how to bat. A 12-varsity letter athlete (in football, basketball, and baseball), he was given the nickname by basketball and baseball coach Miles Hubbard. Mo Vaughn was inducted into Trinity-Pawling's Hall of Fame in 2006. He gave a speech during the ceremony and would later sign autographs for the students.
In the summer of 1988, while attending Seton Hall, Vaughn played first base for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod Baseball League. His teammates included future MLB All-Stars Chuck Knoblauch and Craig Biggio, as well as John Valentin, who was his teammate on the Red Sox and Mets.
Vaughn became the center of the Red Sox's line-up in 1993, hitting 29 home runs and contributing 101 RBIs. In 1995, he established a reputation as one of the most feared hitters in the American League when he hit 39 home runs with 126 RBIs and a .300 average. He also garnered 11 stolen bases. His efforts, which led the Red Sox to the playoffs (only to lose to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series), were rewarded with the American League MVP award.
Vaughn did the best with the Red Sox in 1996, batting an average of .326, playing in 161 games, with 44 home runs, and 143 RBIs. On May 30, 1997 playing a game against the Yankees, Vaughn went 4-for-4 with three solo homers in the Red Sox's 10-4 win over the Yankees.
Vaughn continued to improve over the next several seasons, batting .315 or higher from 1996 to 1998 and averaging 40 home runs and 118 RBIs. The Red Sox lost in the American League Division Series in 1998, once again to the Cleveland Indians, although Vaughn played well, hitting two home runs and driving in seven runs in game one. then went on to professional bowling.
Last season with the Sox
Though Vaughn's powerful personality and extensive charity work made him a popular figure in Boston, he had many issues with the Red Sox management and local media; his disagreements with Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy and Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette were particularly acute. As an outspoken clubhouse leader, Vaughn repeatedly stated that the conservative Sox administration did not want him around. Incidents in which he allegedly punched a man in the mouth outside of a nightclub and crashed his truck while returning home from a strip club in Providence led to further rifts with the administration. Vaughn formed a formidable middle of the lineup with shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. The two combined for 75 home runs in 1998, Vaughn's final year with the club.
Vaughn hit a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning of Opening Day at Fenway Park against the Seattle Mariners in 1998. Despite this auspicious start, the season was filled with acrimony, as Vaughn and the Sox administration sniped at each other throughout the year. After the Cleveland Indians knocked Boston out of the playoffs in the first round, Vaughn became a free agent. Almost immediately, he signed a six-year, $88-million deal with the Anaheim Angels, the highest contract in the game at that time. The Red Sox made little effort to retain him.
Anaheim and beyond
While he hit well for Anaheim when he played—he hit 30-plus home runs and knocked in over 100 runs in both 1999 and 2000—Vaughn was plagued by injuries in 1999 and didn't play a single game in the 2001 season. He started his Anaheim career by falling down the visitor's dugout steps on his first play of his first game, badly spraining his ankle. Vaughn was nevertheless seen as a viable middle of the line-up producer prior to the 2002 season and was traded to the New York Mets on December 27, 2001 for Kevin Appier.
Following Vaughn's departure from Anaheim, Angels closer Troy Percival took a shot at him saying "We may miss Mo's bat, but we won't miss his leadership. Darin Erstad is our leader." This prompted the normally mild-mannered Vaughn to go off on a profanity-laced tirade, saying that Percival and the Angels "ain't done (expletive) in this game." He remarked "They ain't got no flags hanging at friggin' Edison Field, so the hell with them." Ironically, Angels would go on to win the World Series that year and hang their first American League Championship and their first World Series flag on that field.
With the Mets, Vaughn was counted upon to be a key component in a revamped lineup that featured imports Roger Cedeno, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roberto Alomar. Vaughn got off to a slow start in 2002, was lampooned in local papers and on sports talk radio shows, and was clearly not in the same shape he was during his signature seasons in Boston - he weighed 275 pounds during his first season in New York. A late surge in September that saw him hit one of the most prodigious home runs in Shea Stadium history (in the middle of the "Bud" Sign on the monstrous Shea scoreboard) was one of the few highlights in a mostly disastrous season for Vaughn. He played less than a month in 2003 before a knee injury permanently ended his career.
It should be noted that the decision to acquire Vaughn was solely that of then-Mets G.M. Steve Phillips. Vaughn had missed the entire 2001 season due to injury, but when the opportunity to acquire Vaughn presented itself, Phillips and a contingent of Mets' brass (including then-manager Bobby Valentine) descended upon a small batting cage in Connecticut to see Vaughn hit off a tee. Phillips, convinced that Vaughn could immediately enter the Mets' overhauled lineup and contribute without regard to his injury recovery, sent pitcher Kevin Appier (who had arguably been the Mets' most consistent starter in 2001) to the Angels in exchange for the rights to Vaughn.
Post playing career
He currently owns and operates OMNI New York LLC which has bought and rehabilitated 1,142 units of distressed housing in the New York metropolitan area. The company also manages these properties to provide low cost housing using government tax credits. He recently purchased the Noble Drew Ali Plaza in Brownsville, Brooklyn for $21 million, and plans to add massive security upgrades and renovate it. He has also been involved in refurbishing the Whitney Young Manor in Yonkers, New York, a development first constructed by a company owned by his hero Jackie Robinson. Besides the New York metropolitan area, his company is also involved in projects in Cheyenne, Miami and Las Vegas and has expressed an interest in Boston.
- July 11, 1994 was declared Mo Vaughn Day in the City of Boston by mayor Thomas Menino.
- Vaughn wore the number 42 throughout his career in honor of Jackie Robinson. In 1997 Robinson's number was retired throughout the Major Leagues, but a grandfather clause enabled Vaughn to continue to wear it for the remainder of his career. Mariano Rivera, closer for the New York Yankees is the only current player to wear number 42, and will be the last player in the history of the league to wear that number.
- When playing for Seton Hall in college, Vaughn hit a home run that broke the window of a pharmacy an estimated 400 feet to left-center field.
- His cousin is fellow major league baseball player Greg Vaughn.
- His work at the OMNI New York LLC was featured on the episode of Outside the Lines.
- Holds the hit by pitch record for the Boston Red Sox, at 71.
- He is known for visiting New York's Afterhours Nightclubs, like Crobar, and Pacha
- He is a vegan and keeps himself healthy.
It was revealed on December 13, 2007 in the report by Senator George J. Mitchell that Vaughn had purchased steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs from Kirk Radomski, who said he delivered the drugs to him personally. Radomski produced three checks, one for $2,200 and two more for $3,200, from Vaughn, one of the latter dated 6-1-2001, and another dated 6-19-2001. Radomski said that the higher checks were for two kits of HGH, while the lower one was for one and a half kits. Vaughn's name, address and telephone number was listed in an address book seized from Radomski's house by federal agents. Vaughn's trainer instructed him to take HGH in attempt to recover from injury.
Mitchell requested a meeting with Vaughn in order to provide Vaughn with the information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond; Vaughn never agreed to such an interview.
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
- List of Major League Baseball players named in the Mitchell Report
- Career statistics and player information from ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- USA Today article
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