This Homecoming, a John Brown University legend from a near forgotten era returned.
Former Major Leaguer Wally Moon, who coached John Brown’s baseball team from 1966 to 1977, returned to campus and signed his memoir, “Moon Shots”.
Moon played 12 years with the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers, winning the 1954 Rookie of the Year award and three world series championships.
Moon, who grew up in Arkansas, heard about the University by meeting Bill George while he ran JBU’s west coast operations and while Moon was playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Moon said that near the end of his career he was “looking for a place to settle down.”
“I made a visit to Siloam Springs and I liked what I saw and I liked what the president was telling me,” said Moon. “What I saw on campus were bright eyed, young, interested people.”
He said he decided to be a part of the John Brown community because of “the basic philosophy behind the school, the head, the heart, and the hand; … the worship of the Lord; and … the atmosphere under which to work and to live.”
“He brought in a whole new level of professionalism,” said Jerry Rollene, director of alumni and parent relations. “To bring in that kind of caliber of person to a small little school back then was quite an accomplishment by Dr. Brown Jr.”
When Moon started as coach in 1966, he worked to grow a young program into a successful team.
“We started on a baseball field and getting a team together and scheduling games,” said Moon. “It was a lot of work.”
What followed in his tenure was a decade of success for the Golden Eagles.
By the late ‘70s, the team was posting a winning record every year despite playing nearly half of their games against NCAA programs.
“We built a fan base here on campus and in the community,” said Moon.
In his time here he also was a part of the University in ways other than coaching.
“I was totally involved,” said Moon. “I was the baseball coach, [the] head of the physical education department, …[and] an assistant to the president, in addition to my teaching.”
Moon said he also tried to be a spiritual leader for his students and players.
“I tried to show leadership and produce young men who serve The Lord, said Moon. “I tried to do that with my players and through my coaches and in my own actions and in my daily living.”
Moon said the team toured the country recruiting teams for the NAIA and players for the university.
Rollene said, outside of those on the baseball team, students during Moon’s tenure were largely unaware of Moon’s past career in the majors.
“I don’t think he made a point to brag about his major league involvement,” said Rollene. “He was somewhat reserved and didn’t make a big thing of himself.”
After Moon left John Brown in 1977 to run a minor league ball club that he owned, the baseball program ended in 1981.
Despite the lack of baseball on campus today, Moon said he hopes to see the national pastime make a return.
“Baseball is the ultimate sport,” said Moon. “There’s so much tradition and so much history and so much enjoyment. You couldn’t have a sport that was better for a university than baseball.”