Arizona Baseball

Memorial Day: Yahoo publishes heartbreaking story of former Tucson High, Arizona Wildcats baseball star


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Chris Moon's mother Marsha stands behind the gravestone built in honor of her son Chris (Moon family photo)

Chris Moon’s mother Marsha stands behind the gravestone built in honor of her son Chris (Moon family photo)

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Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports wrote this week a gripping, emotional story about the loss of popular former Tucson High School and Arizona Wildcats baseball star Chris Moon, a war hero killed in Afghanistan at age 20 in 2009.

A memorial for Moon is in the works overlooking the baseball diamonds at Cherry Field in Tucson. Moon’s future appeared to be in baseball as a late-round draft choice by the Atlanta Braves in 2007. He opted to play for the Arizona Wildcats instead of going pro but never had the chance to play for head coach Andy Lopez.

A semester into attending Arizona, Moon decided to join the Army instead. Less than two years after telling Lopez his mind was made up to serve his country rather than play baseball, Moon, who quickly became a highly efficient sniper, lost his life as a result of being close to a bomb that was remotely detonated by a member of the Taliban.

“I don’t want to define him by his death. I define his life by how he lived and the kind of person he was and the good things that people tell me about him because obviously as a parent, the most important thing is what people tell you that he’s doing when you’re not around. That’s what defines what kind of child you have.”
— Brian Moon, Chris’ father, as quoted by Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports

“It was hard to imagine somebody giving up what he had to go serve our country,” Tucson High’s head athletic trainer Mike Boese told Watson. “I always tell people, Chris Moon was the high school/college version of Pat Tillman.”

Moon earned Southern Arizona Player of the Year honors as a pitcher and center fielder at Tucson High School. Lopez told Graham that Moon could have played professional baseball if he stayed at Arizona for three years.

Despite his success on the baseball diamond, Moon asked his father Brian since he was 16 if he could join the military. His father was very much against the idea, believing Chris already had a challenge to overcome as a college student and baseball player. As Chris persisted about joining the Army in his first semester at Arizona, his father finally relented.

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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
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Chris Moon

Chris Moon

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Brian Moon told Graham: “I said, ‘Well, you know, you’ve lived our dream to now. I guess it’s time for you to now go and live your dream. So if this is what you want to do, then I support you. I don’t like it, but I support you in it.'”

The life-sized statue of Chris Moon playing baseball and a bronze plaque that will bear his likeness has yet to built at Cherry Field. The memorial will also bear the names of every other Tucson High grad who died during military service.

The Moons, along with friends and family, have been working with Legacies Alive, a nonprofit organization that supports efforts to keep memories of fallen heroes alive, to raise the money for the project.

Please make a donation to help construct a memorial in honor of Chris Moon at Cherry Field in Tucson. Any excess will go toward a scholarship fund in Chris’ name.

The high school also hosts a memorial baseball tournament as a tribute to Chris. The Omni Hotel hosts an annual golf tournament in Chris’ name to help collect funds. The baseball program also has red camo uniforms it wears for special games. All of the jerseys bear Moon’s last name. His No. 11 is retired.

Overall, the memorial will cost an estimated $60,000 and the fund is nearing $20,000. Any excess will go toward a scholarship fund in Chris’ name.

“I want him to be a reminder and a role model for our Tucson High kids and every kid that comes to Cherry Field to practice or play a game,” Boese told Graham.

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Chris Moon

Chris Moon

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Photo by Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com

A baseball tournament is played annually as a memorial to Chris Moon (Photo by Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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