Stu Miller died on Sunday at the age of 87. Most baseball fans may remember him for one of two signature moments, but few recall he was originally signed by St. Louis and spent his first seven professional seasons in the organization.
Overall, the soft-tosser pitched for 16 years and appeared in 704 games in the Majors with the Cardinals, Phillies, New York and San Francisco Giants, Orioles and Braves.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the vast majority of Miller’s success occurred after he left St. Louis in 1956. He went on to lead the National League in ERA in 1958 and converted the most saves in the NL in 1961 and the American League in 1963.
Then a starter, Miller came up with St. Louis in August 1952 and was an immediate success, pitching a 1-0 shutout over the Cubs in his MLB debut. After three starts, 25 innings, he had yet to yield an earned run and allowed just one earned run in his initial 33 frames. Miller finished his strong rookie performance with a 6-3 record and a 2.05 ERA in 88 innings, but that would be his peak as a Cardinal.
After posting a losing record with a 5.61 ERA over the next two seasons, Miller spent most of 1954 and all of 1955 in the minors. The Cards gave up on him, dealing him to the Phillies early in the 1956 season in a bad trade in which they also gave up Harvey Haddix and received Herm Wehmeier and Murry Dickson.
One of Miller’s signature moments occurred during the first of MLB’s two All-Star Games in 1961. The 165-pounder was charged with a balk after being knocked off balance on the mound due to heavy winds at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
In the later years of his career, Miller thrived as Baltimore’s closer. He helped the Orioles to their first World Series title in 1966 and was later named to the team’s Hall of Fame.
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