Of course we heard the stories. How that Stu Miller fellow got blown off the mound at San Francisco. Meaning he was so light (165 pounds) that a wind knocked him around and caused him to balk in the 1961 All-Star game against the American League.
Maybe it was a bit funny but Miller didn’t lose that game, in fact he won it. The Giants pitcher hurled in both All-Star games that year. Miller faced 19 American League hitters and his slow ball fanned 9 of them including the two Yankees sluggers, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Miller was known for throwing slow balls up at hitters. What was that quote, oh, he changed speeds on his change-up.
What the heck does that mean to us Orioles fans?
On December 15, 1962, the Orioles and Giants pulled off a big deal. Lefty Mike McCormick, catcher Johnny Orsino and Miller came East to Baltimore while pitchers Jack Fisher, Billy Hoeft and catcher Jimmie Coker went to Frisco.
Miller turned out to be the big deal in the deal. Following the 1963 campaign, he was named the AL Fireman of the Year by the Sporting News.
Clearly one highlight of Miller’s first season in Baltimore came on Sunday Aug. 11th. The Birds were in DC for a game with the Senators. Milt Pappas pitched for Baltimore while Tom Cheney hurled for Washington. And both pitchers did well.
Baltimore nursed a 3-2 lead heading to ninth inning when the first two O’s batters were hit by a pitch. Poor Miller, in his second inning of relief, was sent to the plate to bat. No doubt he was there to bunt.
Instead, he blasted a bases loaded triple to blow the game wide open. Miller picked up his 19th save of the season in the 6-2 win.
Now Miller wasn’t always a reliever. In his 16 years in the major leagues, Miller pitched in 704 games. He made 93 starts before coming to Baltimore and completed 24 of those starts.
There were no starts for Miller in Baltimore. In his first year in a Birds uniform, he led the AL in appearances (71). In his final season in San Franciso, he went 5-8 with an ERA of 4.12. In Baltimore in 63, he repeated that 5-8 record but his ERA dropped to 2.24. And in an era where saves weren’t all that treasured, he led the AL in saves with 27.
Two years later, Miller won 14 games for the Birds. Fourteen relief wins. That was the year the Twins won the pennant. Five of those victories came in the month of September. On Sept. 10th, he entered a tie game in the eighth inning. And then he watched as Brooks Robinson, Curt Blefary and Jerry Adair all homered in the O’s eighth. That was an easy win to pick up.
Four days later, the Tigers are in town and Miller comes in relief of starter Steve Barber. This time he rides home on a two-run homer by Boog Powell.
They used to call Phil Regan (Dodgers) “The Vulture” for grabbing late wins but this tag might apply to Miller, too.
Miller’s 12th win of the season came on Sept. 21. Miller got one out in eighth in a game in Minnesota. A two-run 10th by Baltimore earned him the victory.
Four days later, the Angels are in town and it’s another low-scoring game. Miller pitches the ninth and allows one Jose Cardinal double but strands him at second.
Russ Snyder leads off the ninth with a triple and scores giving Miller his 13th win.
On Sept. 27th, Miller is in line for a loss. He and Baltimore are trailing 4-3 entering the Orioles eighth inning. A two-run triple by Blefary changes the outcome. Miller is the winner.
Of course it must be mentioned that during the 65 campaign, Miller put together a 31 2/3 scoreless streak.
Miller was back in the bullpen for the World Series championship year of 1966 but did not appear in the four-game sweep.
Miller pitched in nearly 300 games for the Orioles. And he pitched to a sporty 2.37 ERA. Yes, he was a good addition to the club.