Thursday, January 15, 2015

'56 of the month: Paul Minner

The premise of these '56 of the Month posts has become a joke. The last such post was in July. And the one before that was in September of the previous year! But if you think I'm going to get rid of the "month" part of the title, then you have no idea how lazy I am.

So let's keep on pretending I'm doing these posts monthly with a little item on Paul Minner.

I was attracted to this card because it shows Minner, a pitcher, sliding into home. Remember this card in the future when pitchers are allowed only to pitch and you're wondering why your new baseball cards are so boring. It's because there are no pitchers sliding into home.

I never realized that the '56 set was so much in favor of pitchers traveling the bases.

This quirky action shot drew me in so that I could learn something more about Paul Minner. And what I learned was that Paul was placed on a major league mound solely to help others achieve great things. Here is what I mean:

Paul Minner ...

  •  Gave up the first of 586 home runs hit by Frank Robinson. It came during a Reds' 9-1 pasting in which Minner didn't make it to the third inning.
  • Allowed pitcher Robin Roberts to boast that he hit home runs from either side of the plate. Roberts homered five times in his career, four times as a lefty. His one right-handed homer came off Minner.
  • Enhanced the legend of Stan Musial. There is a famous story in which Musial hit a double down the line off Minner, scoring Wally Moon. But the umpire had called the ball foul. That caused a huge argument in which three Cardinals were thrown out of the game. Musial merely shrugged, went back to the plate, and proceeded to double down the line off Minner again.
  • Provided Tommy Brown with his best day as a major leaguer. Brown, known as the youngest position player to play in the majors when he came up as a 16-year-old in 1944, came to the plate against Minner on Sept. 18, 1950, and hit a leadoff single. Two innings later, he hit a home run off Minner. Brown added two more home runs in the game, although Minner was long gone by then.
  • Caused "Who's Who in Baseball", the publication that tried to say something nice about every major leaguer, to offer about Minner, "His wins were meager but his stamina is tremendous."

You can even see a little "try to say something nice" in the cartoons on the back of Minner's card:

A) The best Cub ERA was 3.47; B) I believe that even in the 1950s every major league hurler had more than one pitch; C) The last cartoon half repeats what was said in the first cartoon.

What could they say? Minner led the National League in losses with 17 in 1951? Because that is a fact.

So, gee, now you're asking, didn't this guy do ANYTHING right?

And the answer is, "not really. He was a Chicago Cubs pitcher in the 1950s."

But I did find a couple items.

For one, he was known as a Cardinal killer. He may have gone 69-84 during his major league career, but he was 21-6 against the Cardinals. In 1955, he had won six games by July 4th. Four of those were against the Cardinals.

Also, Minner was on the mound when the lights kicked on during the 1949 World Series. He was the first pitcher to throw under the lights in the World Series.

Of course, Minner was a Dodger then. You didn't think a Cub was in the World Series, did you?

So there you are. I got all of the above because I was amused by a pitcher sliding into home plate on a baseball card.



1 comment:

  1. Any pitcher who is a Cardinal killer is ok by me. This guy seems like the Charlie Brown of the baseball world...