The light Stu Miller did everything with a touch of delicacy. His fastball was no faster than a pool cue rolled on the basement floor by a toddler in training pants, but the little relief pitcher had the stuff to keep Major League hitters off balance. He used his curves and off-speed offerings to become one of the top firemen in baseball history.
Stu made quite a splash at the Major League level in 1952 with a nifty 2.05 ERA over 88 innings with Eddie Stanky’s Cardinals. The Sophomore Jinx bites a great many ballplayers and it sank its teeth into Stu’s right arm in 1953. He struggled in 1953 and ’54 and was then banished to the minor leagues. After a good season in the bushes, Miller came back to the highest level in 1956. Early in the season, St. Louis dealt the slight hurler to the Phillies with Harvey Haddix for Murry Dickson and Herm Wehmeier.
After the ’56 season Stu was traded to the New York Giants and began to show what he was made of. Miller posted a fine 3.63 ERA in the Giants’ last year in New York but flourished when they relocated to San Francisco. In the ’58 season, Stu led the NL with a 2.47 ERA, splitting the season between the rotation and bullpen. During the occupational juggling Stu tossed 182 innings for Bill Rigney’s Giants.
By 1959 the bullpen became Stu’s home. That year he led the Giants in saves and games pitched while posting a 2.84 ERA. In 1961 he tied Roy Face for the NL lead in saves with 17 while posting a fine .737 winning percentage. The ’60 season was one of Stu’s finest, fanning 89 batters opposed to just 37 walks. Despite his flutter-pitches, Miller missed a lot of bats. The soft-tosser averaged just 0.779 hits per inning in a year of offensive exploits.
Stu finished third in saves in 1962 but after the year he was sent to Baltimore for Jim Coker and Billy Hoeft. Miller stood AL batters on their heads his first year in the junior circuit. The mite led the AL in saves with 27 while also topping the league in games pitched and games finished. In stark contrast to most closers (they usually light up the radar guns) Stu still managed to rack up strikeout totals. He and the great Dick Radatz were the only two Major League closers to average a strikeout per inning in ’63.
Miller finished third in the saves department in 1964 then had a magnificent 1965 season. That year Stu posted a 1.89 ERA with 24 saves and 14 wins. His offerings still repelled wood; Miller coughed up an average of just 0.731 hits per inning. He posted a 2.25 ERA in 1966 and had his sixth straight year of fifteen or more saves.
Stu’s last good year came in 1967 with Baltimore. He posted a solid 2.56 ERA for Hank Bauer’s birds. At the age of 40, the Braves bought Stu’s contract before the start of the 1968 season but he only appeared in two games for the Braves before calling it a career.
W 105/L 103/PCT .505/SV 154/G 704/IP 1,694/H 1,522/BB 600/SO 1,164/ERA 3.24