Twelve days into the 2002 major league season, Chad Moeller's phone rang in his Scottsdale, Arizona home. The familiar voice on the other end of the line belonged to Joe Garagiola Jr .,Vice President and General Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Moeller wasn't expecting the call, nor was he expecting the message. He had cleared waivers and was being assigned to AAA Tucson. Still numb from the stinging phone call, Moeller packed his bags and headed east to join the team in Edmonton.
"Every team had a chance to take me and nobody did," he remembers. "That's hard to take."
His ego might have been bruised, but his will was stronger than his ego. Anyone who knows Moeller will tell you he isn't a big talker. He prefers to let his actions speak for him.
His actions in Tucson spoke loudly and clearly. After putting up All-Star caliber numbers with the Sidewinders, Moeller was recalled by the Diamondbacks in mid-July when Damien Miller was placed on the disabled list.
He has done nothing but flourish since.
Moeller hit the ground running with the Diamondbacks, taking full advantage of the opportunity to catch some of the best pitchers in the game, including Curt Schilling and five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson.
"When guys of that caliber want you behind the plate, it's humbling and almost surreal," he says.
The fact that Moeller was placed on waivers in 2002 came as a shock, especially considering his successful performance in 2001. September 14, 2001proved to be a particularly memorable night. With Johnson on the mound and Moeller behind the plate, seventeen Milwaukee Brewers went down on strikes and Moeller hit a homerun in his first at-bat to help the Diamondbacks secure a 5-0 win. He did not make the playoff roster that year; the year the Diamondbacks would go on to win the World Series.
Confident in his abilities, Moeller continued to wait patiently for his opportunity.
The following year, Moeller remembers his name being announced as the starting catcher for the first game of the National League Division Series. "You wait all your life for something like that," he recalls. "Even though we lost that game, it was incredible to be a part of it."
The battery of Johnson and Moeller would become a familiar one in the organization. The two worked together in Johnson's last seventeen starts that year (in which the pitcher recorded a 12-2 record) and continue their successful tandem today.
Reaching Full Potential
It turns out that Moeller made quite an impression on the Diamondbacks' top brass in 2002. When Damien Miller was traded to the Chicago Cubs, Moeller and Rod Barajas began splitting the full-time catching duties. Aside from being his first full year with a big league team, 2003 has been a special year for Moeller. He is realizing a dream, playing consistently at the major league level and significantly contributing to the Diamondbacks both offensively and defensively. Playing at Bank One Ballpark affords Moeller and his wife, Nicolle the opportunity to live at home in Scottsdale year-round.
"This has been a great year both personally and professionally," says Moeller. "I'm happy to have the opportunity to show what I can do at the big league level. I'm enjoying the role I have on this team, and I'm looking forward to the future."
Moeller is also looking forward to perhaps his most important role yet -- that of a father. The Moeller's are expecting their first child this October.
Navigating a Bumpy Road
Although his success is celebrated, and rightly so, his road has not been easy. Aside from being placed on, and clearing, waivers, Moeller has also overcome numerous injuries and subsequent setbacks. Three weeks before he was drafted out of the University of Southern California, Moeller was injured during a collision at the plate. He played the rest of the collegiate season and eighteen games in rookie ball with the pain of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) until surgery was the only option.
More injuries were to come. During his pre-Diamondbacks era, Moeller made his major league debut on June 20, 2000 with the Minnesota Twins. "I was catching everyday and feeling good about my performance," he says. "But, when I had problems with the cartilage in one of my knees, I had to take a step back to address my health. When that happened, another catcher pretty much took over the job and I became expendable."
The Twins' loss was the Diamondbacks' gain; they acquired Moeller in a trade in March of 2001.
It's All About Timing
Was Moeller's journey smooth? Hardly.
What it painful? Sometimes.
Would he change a thing? Absolutely not.
Of all of the lessons learned along the way, Moeller is most confident in knowing that the Lord's timing is perfect.
"Sure I would have liked to be up here sooner," he says. "There are plenty of times when I felt that I deserved the call. Once Nicolle and I made our relationship with our Heavenly Father a main priority over baseball, everything fell into place."
Raised in a Christian household, Moeller's experiences in baseball have brought him closer to God than he could have ever anticipated. During his career, he has leaned heavily on the Lord and continues to do so on a daily basis. Even during a game, Moeller is praising God. If you watch closely as he comes to bat, you might even catch him mouthing his favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4: 13: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
"Without our faith, we would be lost," says Nicolle. "The best part of our day is when Chad and I are able to pray together and study the Word. Regardless of what happens in baseball, we always know that God loves us and will provide for us."
His close friends and teammates will tell you that Moeller is not a big talker, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a complaint among them. "I use the talents God gave me and I choose to praise Him first and foremost," he says. "I have been greatly blessed in baseball, but more importantly, in life."