Superfan 'Mo' Gaba dies, will join O's HOF

July 29th, 2020

Orioles fans first became aware of Mossila “Mo” Gaba in 2015, when the then-9-year-old began calling into 105.7 The Fan’s sports programming in the afternoon after he'd get home from school. An ardent fan of all things Baltimore sports, Gaba quickly grew into a regular on the airwaves, and a household name due to his laughter, enthusiasm and the inspiring details of his story.

Gaba, who was battling cancer for the fifth time, died Tuesday, the same day the Orioles ensured he’d be a part of team history forever. He was 14.

The club announced that Gaba had been elected into the club’s Hall of Fame, as the second-ever recipient of the Wild Billy Hagy Award. Established in 2007 to expand the O’s Hall of Fame to include fans who inspired others with their devotion to the team, Gaba is the second fan to earn enshrinement. He had become a fixture in the Baltimore sports landscape in recent years as he battled cancer and blindness, having lost his eyesight to a malignant tumor when he was nine months old.

“Mo’s positive energy has been constant throughout every battle and continues to bring the entire city of Baltimore together in the face of ongoing crisis,” the Orioles said in a statement. “His unwavering positivity and kindness are qualities every Baltimorean aspires to emulate. Mo Gaba has impacted more people in his 14 years than most people do in an entire lifetime.”

In the Orioles' clubhouse, there has been no more vocal supporter of Gaba than slugger Trey Mancini, who had carved out a friendship with Gaba.

“There is no one more deserving of this incredible honor than Mo,” Mancini said in a statement. “Throughout his battles with cancer, Mo never lost his kind spirit, his sense of humor or his love for the Orioles. His tremendous courage and unwavering positivity in the face of such challenging circumstances have made him an inspiration to me and so many others.”

Mancini, who is currently undergoing his own fight with cancer, met Gaba on Opening Day in 2017. Mancini spent the '18 All-Star break in Baltimore with Gaba, enjoying a day together at a Dave & Buster's arcade. Mancini then hosted the annual Baltimore Ravens pregame Purple Tailgate event last November to raise funds for Gaba, and Mancini was one of many Baltimore sports figures to attend a parade in honor of Gaba's graduation from Lindale Middle School this June.

Orioles catcher Austin Wynns and pitching prospect Bruce Zimmermann also attended the ceremony, along with representatives from the Ravens. In 2019, Gaba became the first person to present an NFL Draft pick in Braile, when he announced Ravens fourth-round selection Ben Powers out of the University of Oklahoma. This July, Gaba hosted “The Big Mo Show” on 105.7 The Fan with Jeremy Conn, fulfilling a lifelong dream.

When Mancini learned of his own cancer diagnosis in March, one of the first calls he received was from Gaba.

“It is fitting that Mo will now have a place in the Orioles Hall of Fame alongside some of the most iconic figures in franchise history,” Mancini said. “I could not be happier for my friend, Mo, and his mother, Sonsy.”

Several other Orioles, past and present, expressed their condolences on Twitter on Tuesday night, including ace John Means, longtime former center fielder Adam Jones and their Double-A affiliate Bowie Baysox.

“Mo GABA you have brought so much joy to so many people,” tweeted Jones, who now plays for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s NPB. “Your legacy will live on as a positive young man who never made an excuse and wanted your team to play hard. You’re such an inspiration. Rest easy big fella. You will be missed! #MoStrong”