Stu Miller

Stuart Leonard Miller (December 26, 1927 – January 4, 2015), nicknamed The Butterfly Man,[1] was a pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1952–56), Philadelphia Phillies (1956), New York/San Francisco Giants (1957–62), Baltimore Orioles (1963–67) and Atlanta Braves (1968). He batted and threw right-handed. In a 16-season career, Miller posted a 105–103 record with a 3.24 earned run average, 1164 strikeouts, and 154 saves in 704 games pitched (93 as a starter).

Stu Miller
Stu Miller.png
Pitcher
Born: (1927-12-26)December 26, 1927
Northampton, Massachusetts
Died: January 4, 2015(2015-01-04) (aged 87)
Cameron Park, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 12, 1952, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
April 23, 1968, for the Atlanta Braves
MLB statistics
Win–loss record105–103
Earned run average3.24
Strikeouts1,164
Saves154
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Miller was an All-Star for the Giants in 1961.[2]

In 1962, Miller had his highest ERA since 1956, posting a 4.12 mark in 59 games (107 innings pitched), going 5–8 with 19 saves.[3] Thinking he was washed up, the Giants traded him to the Baltimore Orioles with Mike McCormick and John Orsino for Jimmie Coker, Jack Fisher, and Billy Hoeft after the season. He responded with a strong 1963 season in which the Associated Press reported, "Little Stuart has never been better."[1] His record on the year was only 5–8, identical to his numbers from a season ago, but Miller led the American League in games (71), games finished (59), and saves (27) now serving as the Oriole closer; his ERA was 2.24, lowest since his rookie season.[3] He and Leon Wagner were tied for 19th in AL MVP voting after the season.[4] Miller finished seventh in MVP voting in 1965, a year in which he had a 14–7 record, a 1.89 ERA, and 24 saves.[2]

On April 30, 1967, Steve Barber and Miller combined to pitch a no-hitter for the Orioles against the Detroit Tigers, but would lose 2–1. Miller entered after Barber, who walked ten batters, gave up the tying run on a wild pitch with two outs. A ground ball to shortstop should have ended it for Miller, but Mark Belanger misplayed it, his error allowing the winning run to score.[5][2]

Miller was involved in one of the more memorable moments in All Star Game history, albeit for an exaggeration of the event in question. In the ninth inning of the first of two 1961 All Star Games (two were played between 1959 and 1962), which was played at Candlestick Park, a gust of wind caused Miller to sway slightly, resulting in a balk,[6] which advanced Roger Maris to second and Al Kaline to third. In the embellished version, it is reported that the wind gust blew the 165-pound Miller off the pitcher's mound.[7] Kaline later scored on an error by Ken Boyer on Rocky Colavito's ground ball, which tied the score at 3–3. One batter later, the wind caused catcher Smoky Burgess to drop Tony Kubek's foul pop-up for an error. Miller bailed Burgess out by striking out Kubek, and after Yogi Berra reached base on Don Zimmer's error, Miller got Hoyt Wilhelm to fly out to left to end the inning. In the top of the 10th inning, the defense behind Miller almost did him in; Nellie Fox walked and scored all the way from first on Boyer's three-base throwing error (the second by Boyer in as many innings) on Kaline's ground ball. Miller's teammates bailed him out in the bottom of the inning and made him the winning pitcher; Hank Aaron singled and scored on a double by Miller's Giant teammate Willie Mays to tie the score, then Mays scored the winning run on Roberto Clemente's single.[8]

On May 14, 1967, he gave up Mickey Mantle's 500th career home run.

Stu Miller Field in Northampton, Massachusetts

Pitching StyleEdit

Miller's "Butterfly Man" nickname came around as a result of his ability to fool hitters with a slow curveball.[1] His fastball only topped out in the 80-mph range, but Miller relied on a deceptive delivery to get batters out. "He was the epitome of an off-speed pitcher, but he could get people out," teammate Eddie Watt said of Miller. "He had just tremendous deception and no fear at all." According to Miller, a catcher told him he could catch his pitches with pliers. "Really, my fastball was in the mid-80s, at most, and the changeup was a good 8 mph less. But both pitches looked the same, which was the secret to my deception," Miller said.[2]

DeathEdit

Miller died January 4, 2015, at his home in Cameron Park, California, aged 87 after a brief illness.[9]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Reichler, Joe (July 17, 1963). "Orioles Get Help from Slow Curves". The Sumter Daily Item. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Encina, Eduardo A. (January 6, 2015). "Former Orioles relief pitcher Stu Miller dies at 87". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Stu Miller Stats". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "1963 Awards Voting". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Apr 30, 1967, Tigers at Orioles Play by Play and Box Score". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  6. ^ "Stu Miller, All-Star Who Committed a Windblown Balk, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Associated Press. 6 January 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  7. ^ Faraudo, Jeff (9 July 2011). "An ill wind: Stu Miller denies being blown off Candlestick Park mound at 1961 All-Star game in San Francisco". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  8. ^ "National League 5, American League 4: All-Star Game Played on Tuesday, July 11, 1961 (D) at Candlestick Park". Retrosheet. July 11, 1961. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  9. ^ "Former Giants pitcher Stu Miller dies". ESPN. Associated Press. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Lindy McDaniel
Sporting News National League Reliever of the Year
1961
Succeeded by
Roy Face
Preceded by
Sonny Siebert
No-hit game
April 30, 1967
with Steve Barber
Succeeded by
Don Wilson