Here’s the latest on the search for Walter “Dobie” Moore, the great Kansas City Monarchs and Santa Clara Leopardos shortstop. In case you haven’t been keeping track, see this and this.
To sum up: Dobie Moore, born in Atlanta sometime around 1896 or 1897, was known to be living in Detroit in the 1930s, along with a brother named Pete Moore who was also a ballplayer. On September 11, 1943, the Chicago Defender printed a photo of him, identifying him as a resident of Detroit. Less than a year and a half earlier, in April 1942, an African American man named Walter Moore, born February 8, 1896, in Atlanta, Georgia, registered for the draft in Detroit.
This particular Walter Moore and his family can be identified in both the 1930 and 1940 census in Detroit. His younger brother Allen is listed as a professional ballplayer in the 1930 census. And this Walter Moore, as Peter Morris discovered, died of a heart attack at his home in Detroit on August 20, 1947.
Everything seems to fit: he was born in Atlanta, lived in Detroit at the right time, his younger brother was a ballplayer (even though the names differ—were Pete Moore and Allen Moore the same person?). According to his death certificate, Walter Moore moved to Detroit in 1926—the very year Dobie Moore was shot and his Negro league career ended.
The only problem is…Dobie Moore was reported to have been a pallbearer at his old teammate George Carr’s funeral in Los Angeles in January, 1948. Six months later, in June 1948, he was reported to have been robbed by “three thugs” on a Chicago street. So the last two sightings of Dobie Moore alive took place after Walter Moore of Detroit died on August 20, 1947.
As I wrote last year:
These 1948 sightings of Dobie Moore could be mistakes. And the circumstantial evidence linking this Walter Moore to the Monarch shortstop is pretty convincing. But it would be great to get one solid link between this Walter and the ballplayer—something like a reference to Dobie’s younger brother Allen (rather than Pete), or anything giving the name of any of Dobie’s relatives, or a record or document that establishes Walter Moore of Detroit as a ballplayer himself.
To cut the suspense short: I think I’ve found a record that establishes a link between Dobie Moore the ballplayer and Walter Moore of Detroit. In the 1923/24 winter season, Dobie Moore starred for the greatest team in Cuban history, the Leopardos of Santa Clara. I’ve finally found a passenger list showing several of Santa Clara’s American players returning to the U.S., arriving at Key West aboard the steam packet Governor Cobb on March 17, 1924. (Click to enlarge.)
There’s no doubt this is Dobie Moore, as he is accompanied by several of his teammates: Dave Brown, Oliver Marcell, Frank Duncan, and Frank Warfield (Elvis Holland, a.k.a. Bill Holland, was originally scheduled to travel with them but didn’t make it aboard for whatever reason).
Moore is listed as born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 6, 1897. This is very close, but not identical to, the February 8, 1895 or 1896 that records list for Walter Moore of Detroit. It’s worth noting that the other Negro league players on this passenger list are given birth dates that differ from other (generally quite reliable) records. From what I’ve seen, the passenger lists of this era are prone to errors and misreadings borne out of carelessness or haste, so such differences are not entirely surprising. So you can compare, here is the birth information for the other players from this list, compared with the birth information from other sources that I’ve used in the Seamheads DB:
- Dave Brown – February 5, 1896, Dallas Tex. / June 9, 1895, Leon County, Texas
- Oliver Marcell – January 14, 1896, New Orleans, La. / June 21, 1895, Thibodaux, La.
- Elvis Holland – February 28, 1901, Alexandria, Ind. / February 28, 1901, Indianapolis, Ind.
- Frank Duncan – February 9, 1901, Kansas City, Mo. / February 14, 1901, Kansas City, Mo.
- Frank Warfield – April 15, 1899, Indianapolis, Ind. / April 28, 1899, Indianapolis, Ind.
With the exception of the always slippery Dave Brown, the birth dates are at least similar (in Marcell’s case June, or Jun., could easily be mistaken for Jan.). Alexandria is a small township less than 50 miles from Indianapolis, while Thibodaux is about 60 miles from New Orleans. It’s very common to find people giving their birth place as a larger town or city near their actual birth place, especially later in life. And it’s equally common to see specific dates move around a little from record to record.
What I’m saying is that I think the birth information on this passenger list is, if not absolutely correct in every detail, approximately accurate—and that I think we can take the February 6, 1897, birth in Atlanta for Dobie Moore as a definite link to Walter Moore of Detroit, born on February 8, 1895 or 1896, in Atlanta. The “circumstantial” case (as I’ve called it) that Peter has found Dobie Moore’s death date is getting very strong, in my opinion.
If we’ve found Dobie Moore, by the way, that would mean he’s buried in Detroit Memorial Park East, in Macomb County, Michigan.
Here’s a list of links tracing the search for Dobie Moore beginning in 2007:
- Why all published birth and death information for Dobie Moore is wrong (October 20, 2007)
- Walter Moore’s WW2 draft card found (October 23, 2007)
- Image of Walter Moore’s WW2 draft card (February 8, 2013)
- Walter Moore’s death record found (April 30, 2013)
- Dobie Moore at George Carr funeral 1948 (April 30, 2013)
- Copy of Walter Moore’s death certificate; second 1948 sighting of Dobie Moore (May 9, 2013)
Credit belongs to John Bowman, who originally looked up Walter Moore’s World War II draft card; Peter Morris, who found Moore’s death record and tracked down his family; and Mark Aubrey, who pointed out that Moore’s brother Allen was listed as a ballplayer in 1930.