Meet Phils Pitcher Bob Miller (the FIRST)

Posted May 3rd, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1950 Whiz Kids, Bob Miller, Philadelphia Phillies, Robert John Miller
Rookie of the…Me?

The 1950 Phillies “Whiz Kids” team lives on in the minds and hearts of fans and collectors, thanks to proud alums like pitcher Bob Miller, who furnished a kind reply to my questions.

First, I wanted to ask if he ever imagined himself going to the World Series in his first full year.

“Dear Tom,

From the first day of spring training, we thought we could win the pennant.”

I asked how he felt about the results of the 1950 National League Rookie of the Year balloting. The 11-game winner finished second in votes to Boston Brave Sam Jethroe. This answer floored me.

“I was never informed that I finished second in the voting. I found out about two years later.”

Today, agents would have incentive clauses getting bonuses for a player who finished so high in the vote totals.

Lastly, I thought I’d point out that I knew WHICH pitcher Bob Miller I was addressing. I asked Robert John Miller for examples of getting mixed up with the other two “pitcher Bob Miller” late arrivals.

“Yes, I met both Bob Millers. They became good friends.

Thanks for the nice letter.

Bob Miller
1950 Whiz Kids”

Minnesota Skipper Sam Mele Remembers White Sox Roadblock En Route to 1965 World Series

Posted May 2nd, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1965 Minnesota Twins, Allie Reynolds, Bill Nowlin, Sam Mele, Tony Cuccinello
Tattoo, or did Mele catch
a fastball on the bicep?

Sam Mele was Minnesota’s first Tom Kelly. Manager Mele turned the Twins into near World Champions in 1965.

I asked him when his thoughts changed from “good team” to “World Series bound.” He replied:

“Had a series with the White Sox and beat them. That gave us the lead.”

Mele’s baseball bloodline can be traced to Uncle Tony Cuccinello. I asked what special education he received as a nephew.

“All the fundamentals of baseball.”

Mele’s fame as Minnesota skipper followed a tidy 10-year career as a hard-working outfielder. His headline-grabbing moment as a hitter came in 1953, compiling a 22-game hitting streak.

I asked if there was one toughest game in which his streak was in doubt.

“Facing Yankee pitcher Allie Reynolds.”

A full look at Mele’s life in baseball is provided by writer Bill Nowlin’s wonderful biography, found on the SABR website.

Free Minor League Player Addresses? It’s true!

Posted April 29th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1983 Visalia Oaks, Dan Cote, Harvey Meiselman

Jeff Signed in English
AND Chinese!

 There’s an offer that can’t be missed.

If you haven’t ordered Harvey Meiselman’s unbeatable 2011 Baseball Address List, he’s sweetening the deal. Buy the baseball list, and he throws in FREE his minor league baseball list. This is an $18 value as a bonus!

Minor leaguers have major memories. They don’t get the same ton of fan mail guys in Topps sets do. Therefore, they have more time to give all-star responses.

Back in January, I featured Dan Cote’s “Signed DC” blog series detailing how he’s collecting the 1983 Visalia Oaks set signed — getting autographs from minor league teammates of Kirby Puckett. Dan would ask for the card to be autographed, then include a question about playing with a future Hall of Famer. Virtually every response included a lengthy tale of that magical season.

Dan just heard from that team’s general manager, receiving a lengthy letter telling about the team and the great set Dan’s collecting. No one else besides this former general manager would know the minor league set’s history! To learn why the card is autographed in English AND Chinese, be sure to check out Dan’s latest blog update.

Meanwhile, Harvey Meiselman is offering the perfect, affordable entry into minor league autograph collecting. Try his list. You’ll be gratified by the heart-felt responses that fill your mailbox.

Coming Monday: Insight from Sam Mele, skipper of the 1965 A.L. Champion Minnesota Twins.