The Orioles announced July 28 that Mo Gaba was elected to their Hall of Fame as the second recipient of the Wild Bill Hagy Award, given to the most devoted fans in club history. Mo passed away later that day at the age of 14.
Mo had battled cancer since he was 9 months old and lost his vision at a young age. He was a passionate Orioles and Ravens fan and became close to both teams. Former Orioles manager Buck Showalter was one of many Baltimore sports figures to have had a relationship with Mo.
“It’s a great move. I applaud them. I’m glad they did it early,” Showalter said on Glenn Clark Radio July 31 of the Orioles’ decision to elect Mo to the Hall of Fame, adding that Mo’s genuine and sincere personality reflected the city of Baltimore.
Showalter managed the Orioles from 2010-2018 and led Baltimore to three playoff appearances, breaking a 15-year playoff drought in 2012. Two years later he led the Orioles to the ALCS, but his team was swept by the Kansas City Royals. Showalter finished 669-684 in eight-plus years as Baltimore’s skipper.
Mo became a Baltimore icon in 2015 when he started calling into the Scott Garceau Show with Jeremy Conn, then an afternoon drive-time show on 105.7 The Fan. From there he became a frequent visitor to M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards, and he was the first person to announce an NFL Draft pick using Braille in 2019.
Showalter recalled the first time he met Mo and how much it impacted him.
“I know the first time I met him, first time I got to spend time around him, he was so uplifting,” Showalter said. “I remember having a private conversation with Adam Jones about it. … I remember bending down and talking to him one day during batting practice, walking away just feeling better. He made you feel better about life in general and taking every second and every precious day we have. He certainly was a blessing to everyone.”
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said last year that when he held hands with Mo, he felt a spiritual connection with him. Showalter had a similar experience.
“He had such a sincerity. There were no agendas. You kind of walk away from it going, whatever your religious thoughts are, you just felt like you were in the presence of an angel almost,” Showalter said. “He was impactful and you came away from it feeling a certain spiritualness.”
“People like him end up in better places,” Showalter added. “You try not to mourn for him too much because you know Mo is in a much better situation than he was in.”
Showalter also reflected on Mo’s impact on his former players. He said that they knew when Mo was at the stadium and enjoyed being in his presence. Trey Mancini spent time with him during the 2018 All-Star break after what was a slow start to his season. Mancini was hitting .216 and slugging .363 at the break. By the end of the season, his average improved to .242 and his slugging percentage rose to .416. Mancini credited Mo with helping him gain perspective and improve in the second half.
In 2014, then-Orioles public relations director Monica Barlow passed away at 36 years old from lung cancer. She had held that position since 2008. Showalter said he felt a similar grief when Mo passed.
“It felt like the Orioles lost a feather,” Showalter said. “I had that same feeling with Mo. There’s one less feather there. We’re very lucky to have him pass our way. He made our lives better.”
For more from Showalter, listen to the full interview here:
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