Saturday, June 3, 2017
'56 of the Month: Stu Miller
Another card arrived in the package of Hollywood has-beens and never-weres from The Five Tool Collector. It was this 1956 Topps Stu Miller card straight off my want list.
As '56 cards go, it's not terribly interesting. Miller appears to be pitching on a wide expanse of freshly cleared farm land. No other signs of life except for the watercolor trees in the distance.
But Miller's career is more interesting than most people know. Although he will never be recalled as one of the great players of the 1960s, he does rank as one of the greatest relief pitchers of the '60s, and also as one of the most Hall-worthy relievers of all-time, according to at least one metric.
Miller, who was still feeling his way at this particular point in his career, would become a junkball relief specialist with the Giants and Orioles, who could pile up the appearances late in his career. He made the All-Star Game in 1961 and that's where his most famous moment happened, when he supposedly was "blown off the mound" and committed a balk there at Candlestick Park.
Later findings recount that Miller didn't really get blown off the mound. He just kind of wavered a bit, enough movement for the umpire to issue a delayed balk call, which led eventually to the American League scoring the tying run (the NL would wind up winning the game). But the headlines declared "Miller Blown Off Mound," and it's possible Miller contributed to that outsized headline.
Regardless, Miller lasted 16 MLB seasons, appeared in 704 games and pitched for World Series teams in both leagues.
The "Year" stats, which cover the 1955 season, is entirely minor league stats. He spent the year in Double A Omaha, despite his "honey" fastball (1956 was a long time ago).
Commish Bob wanted me to point out the "creepy" Cardinals bird in the cartoon.
I don't know. Is that creepy?
How about now? Creepy?
OK, I guess I see it now.