- Moss, the eldest of four children, was introduced to baseball by his stepfather, Todd Milligan.
- In 2002, Moss committed to the University of Georgia, his senior year at Loganville High School, Monroe, Georgia, where he also played football. But Red Sox scout Rob English signed him and Brandon started his pro baseball career.
Brandon credits his solid work ethic and high energy level to his stepfather, Todd Milligan.
"I had great coaches and they all taught me things to make myself better," Moss said. "But my stepdad has been the one who put that drive in me."
- Moss played for Team Georgia in an all-star tournament in Oklahoma his junior year. He was teammates with future Major Leaguers Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, and Matt Capps.
- Major League teams considered drafting him as a pitcher because he could throw 93 mph. However, he only had one other pitch, a knuckleball. He claims his hands are too small to throw any other pitch with quality.
Brandon was a pitcher in high school, throwing 90-95 mph with his fastball and a changeup. But he had no curve.
"I can throw the fastball. I just have nothing else," Moss said. "After my second year, which was short-season A ball, I thought I was going to have to be a pitcher after I couldn't hit. I was like, 'I'd better start figuring out how to throw other stuff.'"
Brandon did not hit his first two seasons in the Sox system, batting .204 in the Gulf Coast League and .237 in Lowell. But he eventually decided against trying to make his way as a pitcher, which paid off. He hit a combined .353 in 2004, his third pro season, with Augusta and Sarasota. And three years later was in the big leagues. (Gordon Edes, Amalie Benjamin-Boston Globe-4/29/08)
In 2004, Brandon was MVP of the South Atlantic League. He ranked third in all of the minors with a .353 average. In the SAL, he won the batting title (.339) and ranked fourth in RBIs (101).
In both 2006 and 2007 Moss led his league in doubles. And in 2007, he also led the International League with 59 extra-base hits.
In 2010, Moss was named Class AAA Indianapolis' Most Valuable Player when he hit .264 with 22 home runs and an International League-leading 93 RBIs.
Moss plays with a lot of intensity, which makes him a fan favorite.
Brandon is good about forgetting about the tough days. Things he can't control don't bother him. He is able to turn the page and move on—which is what you have to do in this game.
"I've always been a loudmouth, which has been a problem for me, too," Moss admitted. "When we lose, or if I go 0-for-4 and the next day I come back all happy-go-lucky, people took it the wrong way—like I wasn't taking it seriously. But it's not me not taking it seriously; it's me forgetting about it. It's like it's a new day and who cares? That doesn't mean anything about today.
"That's just the way I go. I don't care about anything that happened yesterday. If you carry it into the next day, you're going to be (ticked) off the whole day. Who needs to be around some guy like that?" (Chris Kline-Baseball America-7/29/04)
Before 2005 spring training, Baseball America had Moss rated as second-best prospect in the Red Sox organization. But before 2006 spring camp opened, the magazine had Brandon down as #14 in the Boston farm system.
In 2007, he was 14th-best. In the spring of 2008, they rated Moss as the 11th-best prospect in the Red Sox organization.
Brandon and his wife, Allison, go home every offseason back to Loganville, Georgia. There, he is not "Brandon Moss, first baseman," but simply Dad—a title he likes.
He likes to go hunting in his spare time. Bow-hunting is his favorite outdoor sport. He also hangs out with his Jack Russell Terrier, Toby.
"When I was growing up we had another Jack Russell named Scout, but she died a few years ago, so we got Toby. It's the breed. They're full of energy," Moss said.
"My passions are my two boys and hunting," Moss said. "In the offseason, baseball is not brought up very much."
- When Moss got called up to the Major Leagues by the Red Sox and made his debut on August 6, 2007, he was wearing uniform #44—Hank Aaron's number with the Braves, which means a lot to a kid from Georgia like Brandon.
Before Brandon made it in the Majors, he recalled how he had to work odd jobs through the off-seasons to supplement his minor league pay.
"It's one thing to be young and single and a minor leaguer," Moss said in 2014. "It's another to be old and have a wife and kids."
He worked in the kitchen at a Sonic, behind the register at a gas station mini mart, and in the kennels at a veterinarian's office.
"Put it this way," he says. "Those days I was making $8.50 at Sonic, and working nights at the kennel, I was raking it compared to what I was making as a minor league player."
Moss was asked if he made his own fragrance, what would it be called?
"Dirt. I love the smell of wet dirt—drives my wife nuts!" Brandon said.
Asked what he would call a sandwich if he named it, Moss said, "Goolosh sandwich. It's made of bananas, peanut butter, and mayonnaise. It's what my Dad used to make me, and that's what he called it."
Brandon's favorite movie theater snack: "Popcorn, Milk Duds, and a Slurpee. It's a staple."
Favorite dish at Thanksgiving: "Deviled eggs. It's all I eat. I hate holiday food," Moss said. (Athletics Magazine-May 2013)
- When navigating around a typical postgame scene in the A's clubhouse, the only voice heard louder than Brandon's is the one coming from Jayden Moss. Jayden, like Brandon, enjoys talking. He loves people and, really, life in general. This is why father and son are attached at the hip. They're the same person.
"It's been that way since he was born," Brandon said. "My wife will tell you the same thing. We're always together. Jayden makes it really easy to be a Dad, because, really, he's just like me, wants to be just like me, and he really cherishes the time we get together."
Especially when that time is spent at the park, where Dad works and Jayden plays. Brandon lets his 3-year-old son roam around the clubhouse often, knowing he may not always have the chance to expose his children to the unique life he's leading in a baseball uniform. Jayden soaks it all in.
"I think that when he comes in here, he really enjoys it and relishes it," Brandon said. "He's not the typical kid that comes in and is overwhelmed by it. He comes in and takes in everything. He loves the guys. He loves to go to the cage. He loves every bit of life, that's for sure."
Josh Reddick is his buddy, and he was recently convinced that Seth Smith is his other Dad, as he told Brandon in a grocery store the other day.
Brandon had to tell him, "No, son, but he can be your friend."
He says he always wanted kids, even begging wife Allie, his high school sweetheart in Georgia, for one when he was just 23. Allie, 21 at the time, had the forethought to know to wait until their lives had some of stability.
One night in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Jayden was resting on his chest.
"He was radiating heat," Brandon recalled. "His eyes were open, but he wasn't responsive."
Jayden was having a seizure, ultimately revealed as a symptom of Periodic Fever Syndrome, which includes recurrent episodes of fevers that he would get every month to the day. Doctors still don't have a clear understanding of why kids develop such an illness.
"Allie would circle the day, and he'd have it for maybe three days," Brandon said. "It could spike up to 105, 106. It got up to 106.9 one time. Luckily, most kids grow out of it."
Fortunately, Jayden did grow out of it after a year, but not before many scares, including tests for lymphoma and leukemia. Brandon was in Pawtucket, Mass., when Allie mentioned leukemia over the phone. Moss didn't know what to say, so he went to a local mall and "just stood there forever," he remembers.
"I was thinking, 'How do I get my son through this? How do I get us through this? And what if something happens? You just have to put all those scenarios in your head.
"Finally I called her back and said, 'Whatever it is, it's already that.' There's nothing we did and there's nothing we can do to fix it. You just have to pray and you just have to hope and accept that whatever happens is what's meant to be. Whatever it is, we gotta enjoy him, make his life worth something. That was a hard conversation to have, because you're afraid you're going to lose him. He's my everything."
It was at that point Moss realized that the uncontrollable parts of parenthood are what make it scary. No matter how much he wants to, he can't protect his sons from everything.
Being a Dad is the best job Brandon will ever have, no matter the
"I love being a Dad," he said. "It's hard to put into words, how it feels and how much I love it, but it's definitely what I enjoy most. Our kids will always know that home isn't necessarily a place, but that it's where family is." (Jane Lee-MLB.com-June, 2013)
Brandon became a parent for the second time on April 16, 2013. He and his wife Allison welcomed and new son, Brody Dylan. Their oldest son is named Jayden.
On April, 29, 2013, Moss played in the longest game in Oakland A's history, and in the history of the Angels, their opponent. It was a 6-hour, 32-minute affair that tallied 598 pitches and ended at 1:41 a.m.
In the sixth inning, Brandon's opposite-field home runs cut the Angels' lead to 5-1. Then the A's rallied to send the game into extra innings. Finally, in the 19th, Moss connected again. This time it was a two-run shot, giving the A's one of their most exciting, and exhausting, wins in history.
After it was all over, Josh Reddick simply walked up to Moss and handed him his whipped cream pie reward. Moss "pied" himself in the face.
Brandon's family had shown up to the park at 9:45 p.m. to take Daddy home to their house in an Oakland suburb. Four hours later, they made it home And once there, three-year-old Jayden wanted to stay up and watch the pie-to-the-face video until 4:00 a.m.
"He made me play it 18 times," Brandon said.
Moss is extremely affable, ever engaging and super chatty. Chatty with teammates, media and, sometimes, even himself. A writer's dream, really.
Moss doesn't do bad moods. He's the guy who makes them disappear. Probably because he's always chatty, always smiling. So when Brandon was missing in the A's clubhouse for about 40 minutes, it was noticeable.
"I was in the potty," Moss says, unabashedly. "I do my reading, my game playing, all my thinking there. It's my time, my me time." (Jane Lee - MLB.com - 9/09/13)
Moss is a distant cousin of country musician Alan Jackson.
If Brandon were not playing baseball, he would like to be a teacher.
During a hunting trip in Montana during the 2013 off-season, Brandon said he thought he was going to be mauled on two different occasions by grizzly bears.
In June 2015, Brandon hit his 100th career home run. He hit it into the Indians bullpen. Brandon's comment of the ransom note to return the ball was, "a shopping list for the Apple store. I would have to raid an Apple store to get the ball back."
Upon hearing this, Apple CEO Tim Cook, at one of their company meeting rallies said, "That didn't seem quite right to us, and, so, what we're going to do, is we're going to pay the ransom."
Thus offering to donate the items to retrieve the ball.
December 2015: It's an opportunity Moss believes he's ready for, now a year removed from hip surgery, and one he discussed with MLB.com during a recent question-and-answer session. Moss recently took time out of his offseason to discuss the year ahead and talk about how he'll be spending the holidays this year:
MLB.com: Now a year removed from surgery, how has your offseason workout regimen changed? Moss: Last offseason, it was all rehab. Literally, I was non-weight bearing on my right leg until mid-November. Then after mid-November, it was a slow process of walking, jogging, and then I started to run in Spring Training. I didn't start doing squats again until late July, and I've always been a person who gets strength from lifting. I've been unrestricted this offseason and able to do the lifts that I had in the past.
MLB.com: What are your plans for Christmas? Moss: We'll be at home in Georgia for Christmas, and then two days after, we're flying out to Arizona. We're going to spend the rest of my son's Christmas break out there. We have a second home there and love getting to hike around and do outdoors stuff with the family.
MLB.com: Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? Moss: The only tradition that we have every year is on my wife's birthday (Dec. 8), we get our Christmas tree. Otherwise, we're fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of people.
MLB.com: What is on your Christmas wish list this year?Moss: I pretty much get what I want by going to Arizona afterward. Definitely this year, if I were to ask for something, it would be going to our home out in Arizona. That, and there is a really cool lightsaber I want.
MLB.com: What is the best gift you have ever received? Moss: I don't think I've ever been as excited as I was when I was 10-11 years old, and my dad got me a mini dirt bike. I had wanted one so badly, but they had convinced me I wasn't getting it. Then, I woke up on Christmas morning, and it was there.
MLB.com: What will you remember most about 2015? Moss: Baseball-wise, definitely getting traded. It was one of those things where Cleveland was weighing on me a little bit. I wasn't playing as well as I wanted to. It was just hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I got traded to St. Louis, and it was an immediate pick-me-up. It was a place I had always wanted to play.To be frank, I didn't do awful with St. Louis, but I didn't do well. I was just kind of there. I did the best I could, but this isn't a try-hard league. I was very nervous and very worried they wouldn't [tender me a contract], but now I'm ready to prove myself again. (J Langosch - MLB.com - December - 2015)
The weight of missed opportunities had left Brandon Moss a shell of that gregarious Georgia boy that Allison -- or Allie, as her husband calls her -- had fallen for years before at Loganville High School. He lugged his insecurities to the ballpark and returned home empty of confidence, day after day after day in 2011.
Career stops in Boston and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia had done little more than affirm to Moss that he wasn't ever going to be good enough and that this was no way to support a family. At 28 years old, it was time to relinquish the dream and seek a career. "I was just trying to read the writing on the wall," he explains. "You don't really see the light at the end of the tunnel." Fortunately for him, someone else did.
Allie had watched her husband fight this internal struggle and repeatedly had helped him navigate out of it. Growing up with a stepfather who expected excellence in all things and preferred that emotions be masked, Moss had long been his own harshest critic. To disappoint was to fail. The fear of not being good enough overwhelmed him.
Moss had been an eighth-round Draft pick by the Red Sox in 2002, the prospect the Pirates coveted when they dealt away Jason Bay, and now here he was, in '11, an underachieving outfielder stuck in the Minors. Moss would log six at-bats with the Phillies all season. "I just remember that he was completely defeated," Allie said. "If you know Brandon, you know he's very outgoing and always has a smile on his face. But he was coming home every day defeated, almost like he was depressed."
Sensing that his best big league chances had already passed, Moss convinced himself it was time for a career change. He didn't want to drag his family around as he toiled in Triple-A, and he worried that hanging on to his dream too long would handicap his changes at finding a post-playing career. It was time to move on.
Moss was intrigued by the possibility of playing professionally in Asia, but he couldn't find a Japanese team interested in him. With that a dead end, Moss reached out to his high school buddy, Brian Headspeth, to inquire about a career in firefighting.
Headspeth, a fire engineer for the Gwinnett (Ga.) County Fire Department, candidly enumerated the pros and cons. Moss, being drawn to the camaraderie and challenge of firefighting, felt a natural fit. "Coming from baseball, that's the kind of job you're looking for," Moss said. "To where what you put into it, you can get out of it."
Allie told him she'd be supportive of the new journey, but under two conditions: that he had already given baseball his best shot, and that he wasn't doing this solely for their family. They could handle the demands and uncertainty of another baseball season. The question was, could he?
"I remember saying that I believe there was more in him because he was a player that, from an outsider's perspective looking in, once he got up to the big league level, he could not be himself," Allie said. "He felt like he had to be better than he was. Once he got up to the big leagues, he completely froze. I remember looking at him and saying, 'Look, go out there and give it another try.'" (Langosch - MLB.com - 3/1/16)
Moss recounted how much he wrestled with his future four years ago. Had it not been for his wife's insistence, he would have been fighting fires instead of fighting for a starting job in Spring Training 2016 on a team he never imagined could want him. "I can't even tell you how close I was," Moss said of swapping a batting helmet for fireman's one.
But deciding to rededicate himself to his first love was only half the equation. Baseball had to want him back, too. Moss played winter ball -- shined in it, in fact -- before reporting to A's Spring Training under a Minor League contract in 2012. He had signed that deal in December, sensing that Oakland could need outfield help at the Major League level. He then watched as the A's traded for Josh Reddick and Seth Smith, then signed Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Manny Ramirez. So much for an outfield fit.
"Tell them you want to play first base," Allie implored. "You have nothing to lose." In five Major League seasons, Moss had made one start at the position. But when he was assigned to Triple-A to open the season, he again followed his wife's advice and began working at the position with manager Darren Bush. If anything, Moss thought, the added versatility could make him more appealing to a Japanese club, some of which had now begun reaching out to his agent.
Nine days before he could opt out of his contract with Oakland and leave for Asia, Moss was called up to the Majors. Convinced that he'd underachieve and promptly be sent back out, Moss was mostly frustrated by the invite. It would, as he saw it, merely delay his departure. The A's, however, had a need and clearly saw more in Moss than he did in himself. Moss needed reassurance. It came through two conversations.
The first was again in front of Allie, who, after watching Moss go 2-for-13 to start his tenure with the A's, met him at the team hotel in Colorado. She recognized what she saw. "I could see the pressure he was putting on himself," Allie said. "Brandon is just one of those people who completely struggled with the initial thought of not being good enough. I actually sat him down and said, 'This is it, Brandon. This is it. This is probably going to be your last real opportunity. You can take it and be the player I believe you can be, or you have to say, 'This is just not for me and I can't handle that.'"
The next day, Moss hit a pair of home runs. By the end of the series, he had blasted four, driven in eight runs and had regained his spunk. It was the start of a stretch in which Moss hit safely in eight of nine games. Yet, instead of riding high from some success, Moss let the 0-for-13 skid that followed send him right back into a swirl of self-doubt. He assumed Oakland would give up on him, just as three organizations had before.
A's manager Bob Melvin, his team ready to begin a three-game series in Seattle that night, read the emotion written on his player's face. He summoned Moss to where he was standing near the Safeco Field tarp and made him a promise. "I said, 'Listen, Mossy. You're not going anywhere,'" Melvin said, recalling that career-changing conversation. "'You're going to stay here. You're going to stay in the lineup. You've done enough to prove that you should be in there for a while.' And the impact of those words?
"I think he really relaxed at that point and realized he could go 0-for-4 and not have to worry about being sent down," Melvin said. "I think it eased his mind."
"I'll never forget it," added Moss. "And he was honest about that. He wrote me in there every day." Moss went on to establish himself as a big league slugger with the A's, becoming a first-time All-Star in 2014 and participating in the postseason three times. He proved to be a capable first baseman and drove in more runs (168) from '13-14 than anyone on the team but Josh Donaldson.
"In Moss' case, someone has to be an advocate," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "And more importantly, he gave himself a chance. Because when you're at the crossroads of wanting to retire or not, the tough part about our business is very few people decide when they're done. Most are told. And he was having that internal debate on his own of what he was going to do. He chose to continue on and, obviously, the game has been very good to him since." (Langosch - MLB.com - 3/1/16)
To understand where Moss came from is to understand how he approaches the game, one that long gave him fits. Getting the second chance you never thought available can have that effect. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak sensed it July 29, 2015, when, from the Cardinals' training room, he phoned his newest acquisition. It was approaching midnight in St. Louis, two hours earlier than that in Oakland, where Moss had just landed on the Indians' team plane. Though the Trade Deadline deal wouldn't be announced until the next day, Moss was so excited to find a flight out to St. Louis that Mozeliak had to remind him to go first fetch his bags.
"He was pumped," Mozeliak laughed, recalling that conversation. Manager Mike Matheny was struck by the same enthusiasm upon meeting Moss the next day. He recently described Moss as "one of the most excited players I've ever seen put on the jersey midseason."
"I never in my life have seen him so happy," added Allie. There was relief found in another fresh start and a departure from Cleveland, where things just hadn't worked out as expected after the A's traded him there in December 2014. There was also shock. No stranger to self-evaluation, Moss was floored that the organization he had long admired would ever want a player like him.
"I was a failed prospect. I was nothing," Moss said. "If you looked at me three years ago, you would have thought there was no way I belonged in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. I belonged in Oakland. I belonged there because I was the type of player they get. To get an opportunity to be in an organization like this ... it's just ... they're kind of different in the way they target players."
The Cardinals were candid. They sought Moss for his power, hopeful that his bat could inject new life into a stalling offense that particularly lacked production at first base. Moss had slugged .504 and hit 76 home runs the previous three seasons with Oakland, and he had hit more homers (15) with Cleveland than anyone on St. Louis' roster at the time of the trade. But once again restrained by his own insistence to impress, as well as the lower body strength still missing after offseason hip surgery, Moss flashed mostly warning-track power and offered minimal run production. He lost everyday at-bats and drove in as many runs (8) as backup catcher Tony Cruz did during the same span.
The Cardinals, nevertheless, remain convinced that Moss is capable of more, which is why they committed $8.25 million to him in January 2016. That first-base position he picked up on a whim in Oakland is now one that Moss can, with another career resurrection, fill regularly St. Louis.
Moss' career has been a journey of first impressions followed by second chances, a continuum of crossroads in which he has repeatedly faced his own baseball mortality. And for now, he continues on. "I've played longer and more than I ever thought I would," Moss said. "I think it'll be a good thing when baseball is over, too, because I won't look back and say, 'Man, I could have been so much better.' Instead, I have the outlook of, 'Man, I rose above something that not a lot of guys rise above.'
"When you're written off, it's very hard to come back. It takes not only you, but it takes someone else to really give you that opportunity to come back. I've accomplished more in this game than I ever thought I would. I'm something I never thought I would be." (Langosch - MLB.com - 3/1/16)
- June 2002: The Red Sox chose Moss in the 8th round, out of Loganville High School in Monroe, Georgia.
- July 31, 2008: A three-team deal sent Brandon and relief pitcher Craig Hansen from the Red Sox to the Pirates; OF Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to the Red Sox; OF Manny Ramirez from Boston to the Dodgers; and 3B Andy LaRoche and P Bryan Morris from the Dodgers to the Pirates.
- November 19, 2010: Brandon signed with the Phillies organization.
- November 30, 2011: Moss signed with the A's organization.
- January 18, 2013: Moss and the A's avoided salary abitration when they agreed to a one-year pact worth about $1.4 million for 2013.
- January 17, 2014: Brandon and the A's avoided arbitration again, agreeing on a $4.1 million contract for 2014.
- December 8, 2014: The Indians sent INF Joe Wendle to the A's, acquiring Moss.
January 3, 2015: Brandon and the Indians avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $6.5 million pact for 2015.
July 30, 2015: The Cardinals sent LHP Rob Kaminsky to the Indians, acquiring Moss.
- January 15, 2016: The Cardinals and Moss avoided arbitration by agreeing to a 1 year contract for $8.25 million.
- Feb 1, 2017: The Royals signed free agent Moss