The Making of Mo Vaughn

Stories and Photos from the BHS Archives

by David Nevard

with Norman Neu, Karen A. Johnson, Tyler-Travis Bolden, Skitch Winchester, Tim Sears, and Phill Robertson

(c) copyright 1999 Buffalo Head Society

New Britain, Conn., July 1989

...Fifth in the order was a new man, 1B Mo Vaughan. Mo was a first-round draft pick this year, out of Seton Hall. It's unusual for a college player to go right to Double-A, but Butch Hobson told us that Vaughan is mature enough to handle it (the biggest adjustment for him is the switch from aluminum bats to wood). He's from nearby Norwalk, CT, so he's an instant local favorite, too.

...Beehive Field has fairly large dimensions, 330 down the lines, 409 to center, and 16-foot fences all around. There's also something about the place that inhibits long ball; Butch said it's the swamp out beyond the fences. Josias fed the Bills 3 flies to left field. The bat would crack, the ball take off, the crowd "ooooh", and the ball would die in the air and settle in the fielder's glove. It was like that all night. ...Then in the fourth, with a man on, big Mo stepped up and clouted one high and deep to right field. This time the crowd's "oooooooh" turned to cheers. The ball sailed well over the high fence and into the swamp. A tremendous shot; you got the feeling only Big Mo had the sheer strength to park one here. 3-0 New Britain. -- Who Needs Bo? We Got Mo!, by DN & NN

Winter Haven, Fla., March 12, 1990

Maurice (Mo) Vaughn is on hand today, adding to the crowd at 1B. He looked to be a little rusty, but a lot better by the end of the workout today. He's a powerful young man, a shorter and much better-fielding version of Sam Horn -- with a similar personality, a charmer. ... Mo Vaughn has a double-horseshoe brand on his right biceps, courtesy of what he said was a fraternity initiation three months ago. It's certainly distinctive... --KAJ

Pawtucket, R.I., July 27, 1990

Batting fifth: Mo Vaughn, 1B , a prospect. Drafted last season and made a quick transition to professional ball at New Britain. Missed some time this season with a broken hand, but has come back strong. Currently has 12 homers and 36 RBI in 63 games. Vaughn, a left-handed slugger, is the man who excites the crowd, the heart of the Pawtucket offense. Built like a truck. His fielding seems a bit raw (but so has Quintana's in Boston lately), and he swings very hard all the time, which leads to a lot of strikeouts. Will kill a high fastball if they give it to him. --DN & NN

Boston, June 27, 1991

Mo Vaughn called up from Pawtucket; Phil Plantier sent down

Maurice Samuel Vaughn was born December 15, 1967 at Norwalk, Connecticut. Norwalk is technically part of New England, but it is Mets country; in fact for licensing purposes Major League Baseball designates Fairfield County, Connecticut the only part of New England not within the Red Sox' sphere of influence. (Despite hardships, there are some Sox fans there). Mo's father was a running back for the Colts, and is now a middle-school principal; his mother and sister are both teachers. Mo went to high school at Trinity-Pawling Prep just over the state line in New York. Besides starring in baseball there, he played a mean game of hockey (like Trinity alum Kirk McCaskill).

Mo landed a baseball scholarship to Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ) where as a freshman he hit 28 home runs. This wasn't just the school's season record--it was the career record. He was an All-American for three seasons, hitting .417 with mucho homers and RBI's. The Big East named Mo Vaughn its Player of the Decade. He was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and proudly displays a big double-Omega branded on his arm. The frat brothers gave him a purple-and-gold satin jacket with many sayings, one of which reads "Maurice Alias Hit Dog." Mo speaks fondly of his college days, and says he likes the rah-rah college spirit of people like Butch Hobson and Roger Clemens.

Scouted by Matt Sczesny, Vaughn was the Red Sox' second pick in the first round of the June 1989 draft (24th overall). He was sent right to Double-A New Britain, and when we saw him there a month later, he was already the star of the team ("Who Needs Bo? We Got Mo!" RSJ July 1989). This guy just commands the attention of a crowd. He is 6-1 and somewhere around 230 pounds, with big thighs and butt like Cecil Fielder, and mighty arms. The batting helmet comes down over his tree-trunk neck like Darth Vader headgear. He has a short, quick left-handed swing that produces line drives and terrifying home runs. New Britain manager Butch Hobson told us that Mo was mature enough to handle the jump from college to Double-A, the only adjustment being from an aluminum to a wooden bat. Vaughn's 73 games at New Britain produced a .278 average, 8 homers and 38 RBI's. His fielding at first base was a little shaky, but Mo has quick reflexes and Hobson, who said Mo reminded him of George Scott, worked him hard.

Mo went to the Instructional League Camp that fall, and in Spring Training 1990, with the veterans out of camp, he gave the writers plenty of material. He has the confident, easy-going manner of someone who's always been able to take care of himself, and quirky sense of humor, too. The writers were charmed, and calls for Mo's promotion to Boston began very early. He was promoted to Pawtucket, got off to a slow start, was sidelined at the end of April when a pitch broke his right hand, and came back rusty. Around the middle of June Mo Vaughn exploded. He hit .341 in July, .344 in August. He finished with a slugging percentage of .539, and 22 homers in 108 games. Manager Johnny Pesky raved about him, the Pawtucket fans worshipped him. Somehow in September Mo was not called up to Boston, something about the 40-man roster. Mo was Pesky raved about him, the Pawtucket fans worshipped him. Somehow in September Mo was not called up to Boston, something about the 40-man roster. Mo was disappointed and spent the winter doing appearances and card shows ($2.00 an autograph for a guy with no major league at-bats). At the Writers Dinner in January he had a few drinks and made a funny rambling speech: "Please leave it alone for awhile, so I can catch up with what you're saying about me."

The writers gave him the Boston first base job for 1991 (and Rookie of the Year besides), but Joe Morgan thought different. Mo had a so-so spring and was assigned to Pawtucket again, reunited with Butch Hobson. Another slow start, another explosion. Friends of ours who travelled to McCoy in mid-June said the Idol of Pawtucket looked fat and out of shape and hit a bunch of weak pop-ups. The night after they saw him, Mo hit a home run, the next night two homers...he went on a binge of grand slams and 3-run dingers. In one game Mo snapped the bat completely in two, but the ball still went over the fence. ("Snapped the stick, and over the bricks," as Joe Morgan said). Mo ran around the bases with the broken bat handle in his hand.

The Red Sox finally had to call him up. In 67 games this year Mo was hitting .278 with 14 homers and 50 runs batted in. He will be wearing #42, the uniform number of Dave Henderson and Jackie Robinson. --DN

Anaheim, Cal., August 24, 1991

Mike Greenwell got into a batting-practice fight with Mo Vaughn. This fight took place at the batting cage, right out in public, but amazingly all members of the media--Californians and Bostonians--had all left the field for the pressbox (and free lunch?). Luckily for posterity, the gates to the ballpark were already open, and several thousand fans saw the fight. The ever-vigilant Boston press, whose members had been flown clear across the country to cover the Red Sox, were forced to go the fans in the stands to find out what happened.

We are living in the age of America's Funniest Home Videos. An amateur video cameraman toppled the Police Commissioner of LA, and sure enough there was another one on hand to record this fight and sell his tape to the highest bidder among Boston TV Stations. The other stations picked it up, and it has been shown incessantly.

A synopsis: Mike Greenwell and Mo Vaughn are standing beside the cage, jawing at each other. Coach Dick Berardino casually strolls in between the two. Vaughn is emphatically pointing a white-gloved finger at Greenwell. Mike raises the bat he is carrying and lunges toward Mo. He doesn't really swing the bat at him; his hands are apart, and it's much more like a high-sticking move in hockey. Berardino raises his own bat to block Greenwell's. Mo, if he was carrying a bat, has dropped it. He lunges toward Greenwell, and his hands reach Mike's face. Berardino is still in the middle, getting crushed by the two combatants. Several other Red Sox step in, and the whole group goes crashing into the batting cage, almost knocking it over. Greenwell and Vaughn are still going after each other, and no one seems strong enough to separate them; Richie Hebner and Wade Boggs are there, but neither one is exactly risking life and limb. Finally Jack Clark arrives, grabs Vaughn around the waist from behind, and pulls the big first baseman to the ground. Berardino still has hold of Vaughn's legs, and Mo lands on top of him. Several other players have Greenwell pinned up against the cage.

Greenwell came away with a black eye; the next day he spoke to reporters wearing dark glasses, like one of Mike Tyson's victims. Dick Berardino had a big bandage on his elbow. It was hard to tell, from disjointed reports, what the fight had been about. Some said that the two were kidding--ragging on each other--and the kidding got out of hand. Greenwell said something to the effect that Vaughn wasn't showing proper respect towards a veteran--whatever it was Mo had done, Mike would never have done it to Evans or Baylor or other veterans when he was a rookie. Greenwell got he worst of it in the Boston press, since the video showed him striking the first blow. Mike responded by refusing to give any more interviews.

In Boston there was much talk of the A's of the 70's, who constantly fought each other, and still won three World Series. But this type of fight probably occurs more often on frustrated teams--like this year's Reds and Mets--teams who are not doing as well as expected, and are tired of taking heat for it. To our recollection, the usual aftermath of open warfare between players is that one of the participants gets traded within a year. --DN

Boston, October 1991

Butch Hobson replaces Joe Morgan as manager.

Winter Haven, Fla., March 1992

... RBI's by Vaughn (who has slimmed down so much he's almost unrecognizable)

...Butch said that Mo Vaughn was still working on his hitting, that was no secret. He'd been spending a lot of time with Rooster in the batting cage, working on the strike zone, trying to find a comfortable stance. Mo was standing up straighter his first two at-bats today, but then went back into more of crouch. Said he felt more comfortable that way. -- DN

Kansas City, May 8, 1992

The bottom of the fifth started simply for the Royals as McReynolds grounded to the shortstop Luis Rivera. Rivera threw to first and Mo Vaughn misjudged the speed of he throw. The ball wound up in foul territory and McReynolds moved to second base, Bob Melvin followed with a single to right as McReynolds went to third. Gary Thurman sent McReynolds home on a fielders choice at second bass. Rico Rossy ended the inning with a grounder to Boggs. The Royals now had a 2-1 lead. --Tim Sears

Boston, May 11, 1992

Mo Vaughn sent to Pawtucket; Mike Brumley called up

"A dose of reality," says PawSox announcer Mike Stenhouse. During a game in Kansas City May 8, Mo Vaughn dropped a routine throw, which led directly to an unearned run and a 2-1 loss. It was the last major league game Mo will play for awhile. Butch Hobson benched him, and has now sent him into exile in Pawtucket. Hobson was Mo's first professional manager, at Double-A, and had him again in Triple-A last year. Butch knows Mo, and he says that Vaughn had lost his drive and his concentration.

Maybe this is the first adversity Mo Vaughn has faced playing baseball. He was a star in high school, a star in college, a star in the minors. The newspapers built him into a major league star before he ever got to Boston; he was doing card shows before he even got here. Mo didn't have a sensational rookie season, but he batted a respectable .260.

Now the roof is falling in. Mo slimmed down over the winter, and a car accident in Venezuela gave him the fulltime first baseman's job. But in spring training his swing was all messed up, and he was trying all sorts of stances to try and fix it.

Announcer Bob Montgomery says that Vaughn has a "hitch" in his swing--that he holds his hands high and has to drop them before swinging. This little wasted motion makes his bat slow, makes him vulnerable. Monty says that Bobby Doerr suggested Mo could hold his hands low and bring them up (like Dewey Evans?). Mo had better get used to hearing suggestions; his swing has become a matter for public discussion.

One of the things that makes baseball a unique sport is that size does not always equal power. Skinny Henry Aaron hit more homers than giant Frank Howard. Because of his size people saw big Mo as a power hitter, a 35-HR man. But if you watch him take his cuts, you see he's an arm-hitter--he's hardly using his lower body at all, just the strength of his arms to muscle the ball. He's a line drive hitter.

Mo isn't the only Red Sox hitter in a big slump. Through May 17 he's batting .185, Clark is .184, Naehring is .192, Pena is .198, Plantier is .214, and Greenwell is .215. Mo hit a home run in his first at bat of the regular season, but by mid-May he was batting only .053 against lefties, and Hobson was platooning him.

Well, enough analysis of poor Mo Vaughn. His replacements at first base will be Tom Brunansky, Jack Clark, and Scott Cooper. --DN

Boston, June 22, 1992

Mike Greenwell to the Disabled List. Mo Vaughn recalled from Pawtucket

... Mo Vaughn played 28 games for Pawtucket, batting .245 with 4 homers and 17 runs batted in. He had been semi-hot with the bat over the past couple weeks. Reportedly, one of the things the Red Sox wanted him to work on down there was his fielding, especially digging out low throws. Scott Cooper, a more agile fielder than big Mo, had become the regular first baseman and had started to hit the ball more regularly. Both Cooper and Vaughn are left-handed batters, so no platoon is possible. --DN

Boston, June, 1992

Carlos Quintana was the first member of the team to vanish. He disappeared in the rain forest of South America thus ending his career in a hurry. His replacement Mo "The Hit Puppy" Vaughn was found but he got lost in Pawtucket only to find his way back to planet Fenway. Though it looks like he is going to be invisible again soon. -- Skitch Winchester

Boston, July 1992

Hobson believes that young players should respect not only their coaches but the team's veterans as well (the "seniors"). Last year when Butch was questioned about the Mo Vaughn-Mike Greenwell batting cage scuffle, reporters were surprised when Butch did not defend his "own" player (Vaughn) but implied that rookie Mo was out of line and should have shown more respect. Hobson feels he knows what's inside his young players, and his determined to bring out the best in them. This is especially true with Vaughn, who was sent to Pawtucket earlier this season. Vaughn complained when he was first sent down, but now says that he had the wrong attitude, that he knows he has the ability and just has to get the mental part together. Mo says he advised rookie John Valentin not to be hanging out talking to everybody before the game, just concentrate on your job. You can find Mo out at first base taking grounders on a hot afternoon, with Butch watching over his shoulder. --DN

Boston, Sept. 23, 1992

The weather turned to autumn overnight, and it was time to reflect on the baseball season. Mo Vaughn is mixed up. Mo isn't the kind of person to go to the manager and ask, Why aren't you playing me? He feels like the manager should tell him, but the manager doesn't. Mo has made a lot of errors this year, and after he makes an error he gets benched. So he starts thinking I can't make an error, I can't make an error. Which of course leads to another error. The manager expects Mo to play winter ball this year, but Mo can't because he has to have surgery on his finger. The manager doesn't know about this yet.

Maybe Mo needs to relax. Maybe Butch Hobson needs to relax. Other people tell us Butch was a lot friendlier, easier to talk to, when he was in New Britain a couple of years ago. Up here, he had that worried look upon his face by the first week of the season.

Mo Vaughn, who had 149 mid-season at-bats with Pawtucket, is still second on the Red Sox in home runs and RBI. He hit a home run tonight, into the Red Sox bullpen. --DN

Boston, October, 1992

1B Mo Vaughn, whom fate (Quintana's car crash) had dealt the 1B position, had a very disappointing season. He was probably the worst defensive first baseman in the league, and had very tough year at the plate, especially away from Fenway (.196). He was sent to Pawtucket in May because the manager felt he lacked intensity. Mo's game didn't improve much after he was brought back in June. Scott Cooper filled in at first when Vaughn was away or slumping, but Cooper's arm was wasted at 1B. --DN

Boston, October 30, 1992

Mike Easler hired as hitting coach

A year ago the Red Sox hired Rick Burleson as hitting coach and Don Zimmer as third base coach. After the All-Star break Zimmer moved to the bench and Burleson to third base. Old Zim's knees were bothering him, but the reason given by Butch Hobson for the change was that he needed the Gerbil on the bench to help him with managerial strategy.

Rick Burleson filled in for Zimmer and liked working at third base--in fact he liked it better than being a hitting coach. Rick had left Oakland under some controversy, especially about his work with Mark McGwire, who had a terrible season in 1991 and after awhile would not speak to Burleson. This year the Red Sox' team batting average (.246) speaks for itself.

A hitting coach can only work with the players who seek him out. Players we saw working with Burleson included Tony Pena, Tom Brunansky, and Bob Zupcic. They all benefited in some way, but the players counted on for production--Boggs, Reed, Plantier, Vaughn--had miserable seasons with the bat. When the papers mentioned that Ellis Burks might work this winter at Walt Hriniak's hitting school, Burleson was angry. He was being blamed for the team's poor hitting, the players didn't want to listen to him, and he was sick of being a hitting "instructor" anyway. To be a good hitting coach requires the personality of a Zen master: quiet devotion and a keen eye. Burleson--the Rooster--prefers to be where the action is, making split-second decisions in the third base coach's box.

Mike Easler--the Hitman--was hitting coach this year for the Milwaukee Brewers, who batted .268, second in the league (They'd hit .271 the year before with Don Baylor). Easler seems to have had success with castoffs like Kevin Seitzer, Scott Fletcher and Dante Bichette, and with rookie Pat Listach, who batted .290. Easler was reportedly unhappy in Milwaukee because other coaches were "undermining" him, with contradictory instructions to some of the hitters.

Michael Anthony Easler was born November 29, 1950 at Cleveland Ohio. He attended Cleveland State U. and was taken by the Houston Astros in the 6th round of the 1969 draft. He was traded to the Cardinals organization and then the Angels, and it looked like he would be a career minor leaguer. He always hit well in the minors--he led two different Triple-A leagues in batting--but was unimpressive in four separate call-ups to the majors.

Before the 1977 the Angels traded him to Pittsburgh, for whom he had two more great minor league seasons. Finally in 1979 he made the Pirates as a pinch-hitter. We are fam-i-lee! Mike got a World Series ring and the following year became a platoon regular in left-field (with Lee Lacy). He batted .338 with 21 homers, making the All-Star team. He was almost 30 years old.

Easler had several more good seasons in Pittsburgh, where Tony Pena was a teammate. Neither was involved in the early-eighties drug scandal which tore apart Pittsburgh (Easler is an ordained minister). But the Pirates were slipping, and in December 1983 they traded Mike Easler to the Red Sox for pitcher John Tudor. The Sox wanted a replacement for Carl Yastrzemski, who had just retired.

Easler was never a good outfielder, but he blossomed as Boston's DH, playing every day for the first time. In 1984 he hit .313 with 27 homers and 91 RBI's. The next year wasn't so good (.262-16-74), and in spring training of 1986 the Red Sox traded him to the Yankees for Don Baylor. Easler hit .302 for NY but Red Sox fans felt that Baylor was a big factor in getting them to the World Series. Though reporters seemed to admire the Easler, he never excited the fans. The nickname "Hitman" conjured up a gangster image--the hired gun brought in from another city (so the police can't trace him), who disappears after the job is done.

The Yankees traded Mike to Philadelphia, who later traded him back to the Yankees. He was a solid .280 hitter right to the end. --DN

Boston, Spring 1993

The standouts of the camp were both fighting for the first base job. Mo Vaughn, whose 1992 batting confusion had begun in spring training, was now blasting the ball (.403 with 6 HR), and made 0 errors at 1B. Carlos Quintana showed no ill-effects from last year's car accident, and looked his old nifty self at the plate and on the field. --DN

Boston, April 1993

Mo's Easler-like follow-throughThe spirit of youth was in Mo Vaughn, who stayed in his spring training groove right through the first month of the season. Mo batted .412 for April, with 16 RBI and 10 doubles (on a pace to break Earl Webb's 2-bagger record). But it wasn't so much the numbers. It was big Mo sauntering up to the plate, looking around with a grimace, planting his foot on the back line of the batter's box, swinging his front foot into place, marking the dirt and bringing the bat up behind his head, twitching it around, waiting for the pitcher to deliver. It was the thrill in the ballpark when a batter is hot and the crowd knows it and the other team knows it, too. Fenway is the perfect stage for a hitter.

It's been awhile since Fenway had a slugger who could do this, even if only for a month. Mo even took a page out of the Bambino's book--when the team was on the Coast, radio announcer Joe Castiglione arranged a birthday phone call with an eleven-year-old Jimmy Fund patient. Mo told the boy he'd try to hit a home run for him, and that night he actually did it--a blast over the center field fence in Anaheim. --DN

Boston, May 1993

Yes but this team can't catch the ball. True, Mo Vaughn is once again the worst fielding first baseman in the League. He's having a little lapse. But how can you not like a guy who gets 3 errors and 4 hits in the same game? Besides, one of the errors should have been charged to Valentin, which would have made it 2 apiece for the boys of Seton Hall. Valentin is still learning his position. --DN

Boston, August 10, 1993

Mo Vaughn has improved and matured defensively during the course of the season; better at the first baseman's stretch, and scooping the ball out of the dirt; grounders still need work. Mo's hitting has been strong all year. Tonight he lofted a homer to left center field--the ball came down right on the top of the wall and bounced back into the net. --DN

Boston, September, 1993

Mo Vaughn was given the 10th Player Award by the fans (for performance above and beyond), for a season in which he went all the way from suspect to star. He was the first Red Sox player to reach the 100 RBI plateau since Nick Esasky. Mo had a great spring training and continued to hit all year long. Much credit was given to hitting coach Mike Easler, who was signed to a new contract for 1994. --DN

Boston, January 1994

Dan Duquette named General Manager

Boston Baseball Writers Dinner, January 27, 1994

Phill Robertson: Where've you been working out

Mo Vaughn: I've been hitting over at Hingham, on the South Shore.

PR: Who's been your coach since Easler hasn't been around?

MV: Easler, over the phone.

PR: Really?

MV: Oh yeah. Over the phone

PR: Calling up the doctor

MV: Call the doctor up. He'll fix it

PR: You been running inside?

MV: I've got a treadmill at my house, and a life-cycle

PR: After such a good season, what are your expectations?

MV: All I have to do is get myself prepared to play every day. Try not to get hurt, get myself prepared every day, the numbers will come out. I'm also in the process of getting myself more consistent. If I can do that I'll put up numbers. I don't know exactly what they're going to be because I never can project, but I'm gonna put up numbers. They'll be good numbers. But I have to stay mentally focused and I have to be prepared and I have to practice. And as long as I can do that then good things will happen.

PR: I don't know how you stay focused over 162 games, spring training, and...

MV: Because you have to because you're a professional... if you're a professional you will. People come out and watch you play and I figure hell, I'm here, so why the hell go out there half-assed when I can go out there full tilt for three hours and go home and go to sleep. Or you could be digging a ditch somewhere. And digging a ditch ain't that bad either, because its not too much to deal with, you can think about yourself. But I'd rather be playing baseball, so that's the only way I know how to go about it. You've got to look at yourself in the mirror when its all over and you're all done because if you do it right, you can only play for about 10-12 years. If you're lucky. If you're going to do it you might as well do it right.

PR: What was the difference last year from two years ago?

MV: I got a man [Easler] who understood what I wanted to do at the plate. I got a man who knew how to use the Wall, was left-handed and had some power at the same point in time, who could hit for average and hit for power and I damn near mirrored him as a hitter. I didn't mean to, but as we worked out--and it was funny because when we were working out, I wasn't always the one hitting. He was in there hitting, too. I was throwing to him. I was looking and looking and I learned. I got his follow through and I learned that I had a better chance of hitting for average and power if I learned to hit the other way and hit to center field. And that's why the success came. That's why success will continue to come if I stay in the right mind set. --PR

Fort Myers, Fla., March 1994

Mo Vaughn is HUGE! He's easily the biggest man on the team, except for Clemens. He was crushing the ball to all fields during his first turn hitting, and the fans loved every minute. His mates in this go-around, Scott Fletcher, John Valentin, Bob Zupcic, and Tim Naehring, were virtually ignored. Ho-hum already... --KAJ

Boston, July 6, 1994

3. Mo Vaughn 1B, the man who carries the Red Sox; he leads the team in both slugging (.596) and on-base percentage (.407). He's been a remarkably consistent hitter, hitting about the same vs. lefties or righties, at home or away. This year he reached the 20 homer mark faster than any Sox player since Jim Rice in 1983. Up to this point Mo, who's 26 years old, had only missed one game all season. Batting .316 with 21 homers, 52 runs and 63 RBI. --DN

August 12, 1994

Baseball goes on strike

Boston, August 15, 1994

Jason Leader, a young cancer patient who inspired a home run by Boston Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn and later tossed out the first pitch at a game in Fenway Park, died Monday. A spokeswoman for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Boston medical center at which Leader was treated the past four years, said the 12-year-old died at his home near Albany, N.Y. Jason was being treated for neuroblastoma, a tumor affecting the adrenal glands and nervous system, when he got a phone call from Vaughn on April 23, 1993, the day before the youngster's 11th birthday.

Vaughn promised to hit a homer on Jason's birthday, and kept his pledge -- hitting a 3-1 pitch from Ken Patterson out in the seventh inning of a game against the Angels at California. The fan in Anaheim who caught the ball sent it to the Red Sox, and Vaughn presented it to Jason a month later when the youngster threw out the first pitch before a game. Vaughn wrote on the home run ball: "To Jason, stay strong, my friend. Mo Vaughn." Jason -- the oldest of five children -- was diagnosed with cancer in 1990, beginning a four-year battle that included frequent visits to Dana-Farber for a bone-marrow transplant, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment. -- Associated Press

Boston, September 20, 1994

Butch Hobson fired as manager of the Red Sox

Caguas, P.R., November 7, 1994

Sox hitting coach Mike Easler was fired as manager of Caguas in the Puerto Rican League just four games into the season. The Criollos had quite a few Red Sox personnel, including pitching coach Al Nipper and several pitchers. Easler became involved in a controversy with Nipper when the team ran short of pitchers. Nipper didn't want to risk injuring someone through overwork, while Easler had more of a "play-to-win" attitude.

The Red Sox were attempting to resolve the dispute in a conference call when the Criollos fired Easler. The Hit Man then demanded an apology from the Red Sox, but Dan Duquette pointed out that the Sox have no control over the winter league club owner. Easler said he was reconsidering whether to return to Boston as a coach. (Caguas later fired Easler's replacement Sixto Lezcano, and GM Felix Millan guided the team to a last place finish.) --DN

Boston, February 14, 1995

Hitting Coach Mike Easler fired.

Easler, whose relationship with Dan Duquette has been shaky, refused to coach replacement players. He has been having financial troubles for the past year. --DN

Epilogue

Mo Vaughn was voted American League Most Valuable Player in 1995.

After being fired by the Red Sox Butch Hobson managed in an independent league, then in the Phillies minor league organization. Philadelphia fired him after he was arrested for cocaine possessionin Pawtucket, while travelling with the Scranton team. Butch has since been hired back by the Red Sox organization.

At the time of his firing Mike Easler was in financial trouble, some of it with the IRS over undeclared income from card shows and from the seasons he played in Japan. During the 1994 strike, coaches' baseball card royalties (a substantial sum) were held back by the Players Association, even though the coaches weren't on strike.

When Hobson was fired, the Red Sox expressed an interest in keeping Easler as hitting coach. But Mike, desperate for funds, was looking for a raise and a two-year contract, and the Red Sox didn't want to give it to him. Then came the extremely bitter dispute about Puerto Rico. "[Bobby] Schaefer said I wasn't prepared," Mike told the Globe. "That's absolutely not true. I could show him a notebook of every player in the league that would blow him away."

Mike was upset that the Red Sox were trying to portray him as irrational. Easler told the Globe, "That's so untrue. Everyone has some personal problems... I exploded one night in the locker room and threw a can against the wall because Nipper questioned me on why I wasn't hitting and running more. I also got mad when he was calling pitches from the bench.

"Somebody has to be responsible for what was said. It was unfair and uncalled for. Somebody has to answer. I'm watching what's been said very closely. Obviously, some people aren't respecting the knowledge I have of the game... Right now I have a very sour taste in my mouth about the Red Sox." Three months later, he refused to coach replacement players, and was fired.

Easler and Vaughn remained close - Easler became Mo's personal hitting coach on retainer - and it may well be that Mo's distrust of the Red Sox organization came from watching the way his mentor was treated.

Looking back, Easler, a part-time Baptist minister, told the Christian publication WORLD, "I was at a point in my life where I wasn't at peace with myself about what was going on with my career. I thought I should've been paid more as a coach. Even as a Christian, I was fighting so many things. I just wasn't at peace with myself. I was battling selfishness and bitterness inside of me, and I was so angry about so many things. I had just lost my parents, and I was just filled with turmoil.

"It was at this point that I opened up the Bible to the 23rd Psalm and began to read it. That brought a peace to me that had been missing in my life. I had to learn that I couldn't do it alone."

In 1996 and '97 Easler was baseball coach at a small Texas school, National Christian University (NCU). Then he was given the chance to be the first manager of the Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, which opened its inaugural season in May of 1998.

"I know that God has placed me there with this club for a purpose," Mr. Easler told WORLD. "God allowed me to reorganize my life and its direction. This is a wonderful challenge for me, and allows me to do what I've always wanted to do-manage. God allowed me to go through what I did with the Red Sox for a greater purpose, and now he has blessed me by allowing me to start the road back to the majors right here."

Easler reportedly turned down Lou Piniella's offer to be a major league hitting coach with the Mariners, partly because he didn't want to leave Vaughn, and partly because he wanted to manage. "That's what I want to do, manage in the big leagues. This is my last effort to try to get there. I've never been fully given the chance to show what I can do."

Mo Vaughn described Mike Easler for Tom King of the Nashua Telegraph, "He's a great teacher. The biggest thing I ever learned from him was how to hit that wall. He told me, 'You should be able to hit that wall flat-footed.' I said, 'Flat-footed?' He was right. I could do it. Me and Mike, we pretty much got the same hitting stance. I just got more power, like I tell him. But he doesn't just help hitters like me. He helps hitters like Val (John Valentin), He helps anyone.

"That's my man," Vaughn said. "He's always been the type of man who thrived in hard times. You look at what he's been through, spending 10 years in the minors, then 10 years in the big leagues. What motivates him is helping people who are struggling."

"I still feel I'm the batting coach for the Boston Red Sox," Easler told the Telegraph in 1998, because of his relationship with Vaughn and other Sox players, like Valentin.

"When I breathe like that," he said sighing, "we (he and Vaughn) breathe the same air, the same feeling, the same intensity for the game, same respect for the game. He respects the game the same way I do.

"Mo still doubts himself. He's that way. I can relate to everything he feels. Plus, he's a left-handed hitter.

"Mo is my son," Easler says. "I'd die for that man. I love that man."

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