Sam Mele

Sabath Anthony "Sam" Mele (January 21, 1922 – May 1, 2017) was an American right fielder, manager, coach and scout in Major League Baseball. As a manager, he led the Minnesota Twins to their first American League championship in 1965.[1]

Sam Mele
Sam Mele
Right fielder / Manager
Born: January 21, 1922
Astoria, New York
Died: May 1, 2017 (aged 95)
Quincy, Massachusetts
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 15, 1947, for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 16, 1956, for the Cleveland Indians
MLB statistics
Batting average.267
Home runs80
Runs batted in544
Managerial record524–436
Winning %.546
Teams
As player

As manager

Early life

Mele was born in 1922 in Queens, New York, where his parents had immigrated to from Italy.[2] Mele was the nephew of major league baseball players Tony and Al Cuccinello, but did not play baseball until he attended William Cullen Bryant High School. The high school gave up baseball after his freshman year, but Mele played with other local baseball teams. Mentored by his uncle Tony, Mele gained major league attention and worked out with several teams while still in high school.

After high school, Mele attended New York University. In 1940, he broke his leg sliding into third base but, in 1941, he posted a batting average of .405, and in 1942, he hit .369. He also excelled as a basketball player. NYU basketball head coach Howard Cann called Mele one of the finest players he ever coached. In the summer of 1941, Mele also played baseball for the Burlington, Vermont team of the Northern League where he made contact with the Boston Red Sox and signed a five-figure contract.

World War II service

But before he could join the Sox, he first signed up for the United States Marine Corps in 1942 and was called in July 1943. As part of the V-12 Navy College Training Program, Mele played baseball for Red Rolfe at Yale University. He was sent to the Pacific Ocean where he was able to play baseball with Joe DiMaggio and others. Mele led the Navy league with a .358 average in 1944.

Playing career

Mele threw and batted right-handed and was listed as 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and 183 pounds (83 kg).[1] In 1946, after the Marines, Mele joined the Red Sox in Sarasota, Florida before being sent to the Louisville Colonels and, later, the Eastern League Scranton Red Sox. Mele won the Eastern League Most Valuable Player award, leading the league in batting average (.342), total bases and triples. Along the way, he acquired the nickname "Sam" from his initials.[3]

The following year, the 1947 Red Sox, the defending American League champions, went into spring training with uncertainty at the right field position, but Mele won the job with a 5-for-5 performance, started in 90 games, and hit .302 for the season. He also substituted well in center field when Dom DiMaggio was injured.[4]

During his big-league career (1947–56), Mele saw duty with six major league clubs: the Red Sox, Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, batting .267 with 80 home runs in 1,046 games. His 916 hits also included 168 doubles and 39 triples. Although he never duplicated his .302 rookie batting average, Mele had two strong back-to-back seasons for Washington in 1950–51. Playing as the Senators' regular right fielder, he drove home 86 and 94 runs and led the American League in doubles with 36 in 1951. In 1953, he knocked in 82 runs for the White Sox, second on the club. Defensively, Mele posted a .988 fielding percentage at all three outfield positions and at first base.

Managing career

Minnesota Twins

Early managerial and coaching career

Immediately after his playing career ended in the minor leagues in 1958, Mele became a scout for the Washington Senators. But in 1959, on July 4, Mele joined the Major League coaching staff of the Senators under manager Cookie Lavagetto when Billy Jurges departed to become skipper of the Red Sox.[5] He followed the franchise when it moved to Bloomington, Minnesota, as the Minnesota Twins in 1961. With the maiden edition of the Twins struggling at 19–30 (.388) on June 6, 1961, Mele filled in as manager, winning two of seven games while Lavagetto took a leave of absence. Mele then formally succeeded to the job on June 23, 1961. The Twins moved up two places in the standings under Mele, going 45–49 (.479) and finishing seventh.[1]

But fortified by young players such as Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, Jim Kaat, Zoilo Versalles and Bob Allison, the Twins challenged the powerful New York Yankees in 1962 before placing second. After finishing third in 1963, the team suffered through a poor season in 1964,[1] leading to speculation that Mele would be replaced by his new third base coach, Billy Martin.

1965 American League championship

Instead, Mele's 1965 Twins broke the Yankees' stranglehold on the American League pennant, as from 1947 to 1964, the Yankees had won all but three pennants. Led by Versalles, who was named the American League's Most Valuable Player, batting champion Tony Oliva, and pitcher Mudcat Grant, who won 21 games, Minnesota won 102 games—still a franchise record—and coasted to the league title. (The Yankees finished sixth.) Minnesota won the first two games in the 1965 World Series, but the superior pitching of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen asserted itself as Los Angeles won in seven games.[1]

1966 and beyond

The 1966 Twins won 13 fewer games, and finished runners-up to the Baltimore Orioles.[1] Mele also became embroiled in a clash between two of his coaches, Martin and pitching tutor Johnny Sain,[6] which was later described by Martin as Sain's efforts to try to get Mele fired.[7] His action (or inaction) alienated him from some of the players.[8] The club swung a major trade for pitcher Dean Chance during the offseason and unveiled star rookie Rod Carew in 1967. Expectations were high in Minnesota, but when the Twins were only .500 after 50 games, Mele was fired. His successor was not Martin, as had been anticipated, but longtime minor league manager Cal Ermer.[1]

Mele's record as a manager was 524–436 (.546).[9] He never managed again at any level in baseball, but returned to the Red Sox, where he served as a special assignments scout from the midseason of 1967 until his 1994 retirement.

Managerial record

Team From To Regular season record Post–season record
W L Win % W L Win %
Minnesota Twins 1961 1961 2 5 .286
Minnesota Twins 1961 1967 522 431 .548 3 4 .429
Total 524 436 .546 3 4 .429
Ref.:[9]

Death

Mele died on the night of May 1, 2017 at his residence in Quincy, Massachusetts of natural causes at the age of 95.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Career statistics and history at Baseball-Reference.com
  2. ^ Goldstein, Richard (4 May 2017). "Sam Mele, Major League Player, Manager and Scout, Dies at 95". The New York Times. p. B14. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  3. ^ The Washington Senators, 1901–1971 by Tom Deveaux. ISBN 0-7864-0993-2.
  4. ^ Rumill, Ed (1948). "He Hoops It Up for the Red Sox Now". Baseball Digest. 7 (3): 14–16. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  5. ^ The Associated Press (July 5, 1959). "Sam Mele named Senators' coach". Reading Eagle.
  6. ^ Gross, Milt (June 13, 1967). "Mele's number was up long before firing". Miami News.
  7. ^ Number 1, Billy Martin with Peter Golenbock, 1980.
  8. ^ United Press International, "Kaat Calls Loss of 2 Coaches Big Error", quoted in The New York Times, October 7, 1966
  9. ^ a b "Sam Mele". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "Former Red Sox player, scout Sam Mele dies at 95". Boston Herald. May 2, 2017. Retrieved May 2, 2017.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Billy Jurges
Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins
third base coach

1959–1961
Succeeded by
Floyd Baker
1947 Boston Red Sox season

The 1947 Boston Red Sox season was the 47th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 83 wins and 71 losses.

1948 Boston Red Sox season

The 1948 Boston Red Sox season was the 48th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished second in the American League (AL) with a record of 96 wins and 59 losses, including the loss of a one-game playoff to the Cleveland Indians after both teams had finished the regular schedule with identical 96–58 records. The first Red Sox season to be broadcast on television, broadcasts were then alternated between WBZ-TV and WNAC-TV but with the same broadcast team regardless of broadcasting station.

1952 Chicago White Sox season

The 1952 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 52nd season in the major leagues, and its 53rd season overall. They finished with a record 81–73, good enough for third place in the American League, 14 games behind the 1st place New York Yankees.

1953 Chicago White Sox season

The 1953 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 53rd season in the major leagues, and its 54th season overall. They finished with a record 89–65, good enough for third place in the American League, 11.5 games behind the first place New York Yankees.

1954 Baltimore Orioles season

The 1954 Baltimore Orioles season was the franchise's 54th season (it was founded as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, then played as the St. Louis Browns from 1902–53) but its first season as the Baltimore Orioles. The season involved the Orioles finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 54 wins and 100 losses, 57 games behind the AL champion Cleveland Indians in their first season in Baltimore. The team was managed by Jimmy Dykes, and played its home games at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

1961 Minnesota Twins season

In 1961 the Twins finished the season with a record of 70–90, good for seventh in the American League, which had expanded from 8 to 10 teams during the 1960–61 offseason. It was the franchise's first season in Minnesota after 60 seasons in Washington, D.C. The Twins played their home games at Metropolitan Stadium.

1962 Minnesota Twins season

The 1962 Minnesota Twins improved to 91–71, finishing second in the American League, five games short of the World Champion New York Yankees. 1,433,116 fans attended Twins games, the second highest total in the American League.

1963 Minnesota Twins season

The 1963 Minnesota Twins finished 91–70, third in the American League. 1,406,652 fans attended Twins games, the highest total in the American League.

1964 Minnesota Twins season

After winning 91 games the previous two seasons, the 1964 Minnesota Twins slumped to 79–83, a disappointing tie for sixth with the Cleveland Indians in the American League, 20 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

1965 Minnesota Twins season

The 1965 Minnesota Twins won the 1965 American League pennant with a 102–60 record. It was the team's first pennant since moving to Minnesota, and the 102 wins was a team record.

1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 37th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 12, 1966, at then-new Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 10-inning contest – which was played on a memorably hot and humid afternoon in St. Louis, with a game-time temperature of 105 °F (41 °C) – resulted in a 2–1 victory for the NL.

1966 Minnesota Twins season

The 1966 Minnesota Twins finished 89–73, second in the American League. 1,259,374 fans attended Twins games, the second highest total in the American League.

1967 Minnesota Twins season

The 1967 Minnesota Twins finished 91–71, tied for second in the American League with the Detroit Tigers. The Twins had a one-game lead on the Red Sox with two games remaining in Boston, but lost both games. A total of 1,483,547 fans attended Twins games, the second highest total in the American League.

Al Cuccinello

Alfred Edward Cuccinello (August 26, 1914 – March 29, 2004) was a second baseman in Major League Baseball who played briefly for the New York Giants during the 1935 season. Listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), 165 lb., Cuccinello batted and threw right-handed. He was the younger brother of Tony Cuccinello and uncle of Sam Mele.A native of Long Island City, New York, Cuccinello began his professional career with the Nashville Volunteers, playing for them in 1934 and 1935. He had a batting average of .320 for the Volunteers in 1934 through 129 games and .315 in 1935. Cuccinello was then promoted partway through 1925 appeared in 54 games for the New York Giants. On May 30 of that year, he hit a home run in his first game at the Polo Grounds, and on July 5, he and his brother Tony, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, each hit home runs in the same game, the first time opposing brothers accomplished such a feat. In his one season in the major leagues, Cuccinello posted a .248 average (41–for–165) with four home runs and 20 RBI, including 27 runs, seven doubles and one triple.After the 1935 season, Cuccinello returned to the minor leagues. He spent 1936 with the Columbus Red Birds, then spent part of 1936 and all of 1937 with the Rochester Red Wings. He finished his playing career in 1938 with the Houston Buffaloes.Following his playing career, Cuccinello spent some time working as a municipal worker in New York City. He then returned to baseball as a scout for the New York Yankees for 21 years. He also served as a member of the United States Coast Guard during World War II. He died in Malverne, New York at the age of 89 on March 29, 2004.

Chuck Schilling

Charles Thomas Schilling (born October 25, 1937) is an American former professional baseball player, a second baseman in Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox (1961–65). A 1963 graduate of Manhattan College, he threw and batted right-handed, stood 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) tall and weighed 170 pounds (77 kg).

After playing for Boston's Triple-A Minneapolis Millers farm team in 1960, Schilling broke into the Major Leagues in 1961, the same year as his friend and fellow Long Islander, eventual Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. A slick fielder, his arrival prompted the Red Sox to move the incumbent American League batting champion, Pete Runnels, from second base to first baseman and utility infielder. Schilling appeared in 158 games as a rookie, setting career highs in batting average (.259), hits (167), runs scored (87) and runs batted in (RBI) (62). He committed eight errors in 846 chances for a league-best fielding percentage of .991. He won the Red Sox' Most Valuable Player (now the Thomas A. Yawkey) Award for 1961 as bestowed by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.In 1962, Schilling's sophomore season, he suffered a wrist injury causing him to miss over 40 games and impairing his batting ability for the rest of his career. Although he hit a personal-best seven home runs in 1962, he batted only .230 and would never again hit over .240. He was still the Red Sox' regular second baseman in 1963, but hit .234 in 143 games and lost his regular job to Felix Mantilla and Dalton Jones in 1964, both good hitters but mediocre-at-best fielders.

By the start of the 1966 campaign, Schilling had become a utility player. During spring training, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins with catcher Russ Nixon for left-handed pitcher Dick Stigman. Schilling began the season on the Twins' 28-man roster, but never played a game for manager Sam Mele and retired just before the rosters were cut to 25 on May 15 rather than accept a minor league assignment.

During his five-season career, Schilling batted .239 in 541 games played, with 470 hits, 76 doubles, five triples, 23 home runs and 146 runs batted in.

In retirement, he returned to Long Island to teach secondary-school mathematics and play competitive softball until he was 69.

Mel Hoderlein

Melvin Anthony Hoderlein (June 24, 1923 – May 21, 2001) was a utility infielder in Major League Baseball who played from 1951 through 1954 for the Boston Red Sox (1951) and Washington Senators (1952–54). Listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), 185 lb., Hoderlein was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed. He was born in Mount Carmel, Ohio.

A steady infielder with good instincts, Hoderlein is better known as a player who was part of seven major league franchises but only played for two of them. At age 28, it was a long way for Hoderlein, who spent four years of active military service and six seasons in the minors playing for the Reds, Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox systems (1941, 1946–50).

Hoderlein joined the U.S. Air Force during World War II (1942–45). After being discharged, he was part of several transactions before debuting in the majors in August 1951 with the Red Sox, while hitting .357 (5-for-14) in nine games. Before the 1952 season, he was traded by Boston with Chuck Stobbs to the White Sox in the same transaction that brought Randy Gumpert to Boston. But Hoderlein did not appear in a game for the White Sox. He was sent immediately along with Jim Busby to the Senators in exchange for Sam Mele.

Hoderlein gave three years of good services for Washington, coming out of the bench as a defensive replacement and for pinch-hitting duties. In the 1954 midseason he was dealt to the Tigers for Johnny Pesky, but he decided to finally hang his spikes.

In a four-season career, Hoderlein was a .252 hitter (74-for-294) with 22 runs and 24 RBI in 118 games, including 10 doubles, three triples, two stolen bases, and a .327 on-base percentage. He did not hit a home run. He made 88 infield appearances at second base (77), shortstop (8) and third base (3), committing 14 errors in 423 chances for a collective .967 fielding percentage.

Hoderlein died in his hometown of Mount Carmel, Ohio at age 77.

Mele (disambiguation)

Mele is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Genoa in the Italian region of Liguria.

Mele may also refer to:

Alfred Mele (born 1951), American philosopher

Alphonse van Mele (1891–1972), Belgian gymnast

Casandra Stark Mele, film director

Mele Tuilotolava, Tongan-New Zealand lawyer

Mele "Mel" Vojvodich (1929–2003), American aviator

Nicholas Mele, actor

Sam Mele (born 1923), former right fielder, manager, coach and scout in Major League Baseball

Mele (island), an island in the Shefa province of Vanuatu.

Mele, Maharashtra, a village in Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra state in Western India

Mele, a villain in the 2007 Japanese tokusatsu television series Juken Sentai Gekiranger.

Mele (Hawaiian language) is a generalized Hawaiian language word that denotes both chants or any type of song

Milt Jordan

Milton Mignot Jordan (May 24, 1927 – May 13, 1993) was an American professional baseball player, a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), 207 lb (94 kg) right-handed pitcher who appeared in eight Major League games for the 1953 Detroit Tigers. He was born in Mineral Springs, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, and served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.Jordan's nine-season (1948–1956) career was spent entirely in the Tiger organization. His Major League trial came at the outset of the 1953 campaign. After two scoreless appearances as a relief pitcher, Jordan was given his only MLB starting assignment by manager Fred Hutchinson on April 22 against the Chicago White Sox at Briggs Stadium. He had a rocky second inning, surrendering three runs, but he recovered to last seven full innings, giving up six runs, all earned and 12 hits, including home runs by Chicago's Sam Mele, Sherm Lollar and Vern Stephens. He departed with the Tigers trailing 6–1, and absorbed the loss in an eventual 9–7 defeat. It was his only Major League decision. In 17 innings, he allowed 26 hits, 11 earned runs and five bases on balls, with four strikeouts.

Ironically, 1953 also represented Jordan's best minor league season, in which he won 12, lost only once, and compiled a 3.11 earned run average for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons of the International League, mostly working as a relief pitcher.

Tony Cuccinello

Anthony Francis "Tony" Cuccinello (November 8, 1907 – September 21, 1995) was an American professional baseball second baseman and third baseman. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Bees, New York Giants, Boston Braves, and Chicago White Sox between 1930 and 1945. He was the older brother and uncle of former major league players Al Cuccinello and Sam Mele. His surname was pronounced "coo-chi-NELL-oh".A native of Long Island City, New York, Cuccinello led the National League second basemen in assists and double plays three times and hit .300 or better five times, with a career high .315 in 1931. He was selected for MLB's first All-Star Game, played on July 6, 1933 at Comiskey Park, batting as a pinch-hitter for Carl Hubbell in the 9th inning. He also was selected for the 1938 All-Star Game.

On August 13, 1931, as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, he went 6-6, scoring 4 runs and recording 5 RBI in a 17-3 rout of the Boston Braves.

During the 1945 season, Cuccinello hit .308 for the Chicago White Sox, and just missed winning the American League batting title, one point behind Snuffy Stirnweiss' .309. Nevertheless, he was released in the offseason.

In a 15-season career, Cuccinello was a .280 hitter with 94 home runs and 884 RBI in 1704 games.

Following his playing retirement, in 1947 Cuccinello managed in the Florida International League for the Tampa team (named the Smokers, after the city's large cigar business), and a year later coached for the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. He returned to the major league to coach with the Reds (1949–51), Cleveland Indians (1952–56), White Sox (1957–66; 1969) and Detroit Tigers (1967–68). He coached under former teammate Al López in Cleveland and Chicago and was a member of Lopez's 1954 and 1959 American League championship teams, and the 1968 World Series champions.

Cuccinello died in Tampa, Florida at the age of 87.

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