Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dennis Higgins (#52)

Here is the first solo card for reliever Dennis Higgins. Currently, Higgins is the oldest living player from the 1966-70 period that I have not yet blogged about.

When I mentally run through the players in the 1967 Topps set (yes, I’m enough of a card geek that I do that occasionally), Higgins is invariably one of the players that I forget about (along with Sandy Alomar, Bob Priddy, Willie Smith, and surprisingly, Mike Cuellar).

Dennis was a relief pitcher from 1966-72 for the White Sox, Senators, Indians, and Cardinals.

Higgins began his career with a 6-year stint in the White Sox’ farm system (1958-65), then debuted with the ChiSox in April 1966, appearing in 42 games that season (all but 1 in relief). He picked up 5 saves over 93 innings, and sported a 2.52 ERA.


He missed part of the 1967 season, only pitching 9 games for Chicago and 6 games in triple-A.

In Spring Training 1968 he was traded to the Senators with shortstop Ron Hansen and pitcher Steve Jones for pitchers Bob Priddy and Buster Narum and shortstop Tim Cullen. Higgins pitched over 50 games in each of his 2 seasons with the Nats, and won a career-high 10 games in 1969.

Before the 1970 season, he and pitcher Barry Moore were traded to the Indians for 2nd baseman Dave Nelson and pitcher Horacio Pina. (In 1970, 5th-place Cleveland was a slight upgrade from 6th-place Washington.)

Higgins only spent one season with the Tribe, but led the team with 11 saves in 58 games as their closer.

He was in the minors for almost all of 1971, during which he transferred to the Athletics’ and then the Cardinals’ organizations. He pitched in 3 games for the Cardinals that year.

Dennis split his final season (1972) between triple-A and the Cardinals, pitching only 15 games for the Cards. In the season’s final month he was sold to the Padres, but never played a game with them.

Higgins is a cousin of White Sox’ 2002-2008 3rd baseman Joe Crede.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bob Miller (#461)

During his 17-year career, Bob Miller played for 10 of the 24 MLB teams, tying a modern-day record (since broken). He also played for 3 teams in the same season THREE TIMES!

Miller began his pro career in June 1957 as a bonus baby, pitching for the Cardinals (with no prior minor-league experience). After pitching 9 innings over 5 games that season, it was back to the minors for all of 1958.

He split the ’59 and ’60 seasons between the Cardinals and their minor-league teams. Bob was back in the majors to stay in 1961, pitching in 34 games (5 starts) in his final season with the Cardinals.


Prior to the 1962 season, Miller was selected by the Mets in the expansion draft. (Bob was one of 2 pitchers named Bob Miller on the ’62 Mets. ) After compiling a 1-12 record for the wretched expansion team, he was traded to the Dodgers in the off-season for first baseman Tim Harkness and 2nd baseman Larry Burright.

Bob really got his career on-track during his 5 seasons with the Dodgers. Mostly a reliever, he also started 23 games in 1963 and a few more over the next 4 seasons. In ’63 he reached a career-high 10 wins (pretty good for a reliever) and in ’64 he led the NL with 74 appearances. His ERA was also under 3.00 in each of his first 4 seasons.

Miller closed out 2 games in the 1965 World Series vs. the Twins, and also pitched 3 innings in a game vs. the Orioles in the ’66 World Series.

With Jim Brewer emerging as a fine reliever, the Dodgers traded both Miller and Ron Perranoski (along with starting catcher John Roseboro) to the Twins after the 1967 season for shortstop Zoilo Versalles and pitcher Mudcat Grant.

The Dodgers were trying to plug the hole they created at shortstop by trading Maury Wills a year earlier, but that trade was a disaster. Roseboro had 2 solid seasons with the Twins and made the All-Star team in 1969, Perranoski led the AL in saves in ’69 and ’70, and Miller went on to pitch for 7 more seasons. Meanwhile Versalles was a bust after leaving Minnesota - after batting .196 in 1968, he was selected by the Padres in the expansion draft, but quickly flipped to the Indians for minor-leaguer Bill Davis (he of the 5 Rookie Stars cards). What a waste, eh Night Owl?

After two seasons in Minnesota (including an appearance in the 1969 ALCS), Miller spent the final 5 years of his career bouncing around to 7 teams: Indians (’70), White Sox (’70), Cubs (’70-’71), Padres (’71), Pirates (’71-’72), Padres again (’73), Tigers (’73), and back to the Mets (’73-’74).

Bob also pitched in the ’71 and ’72 post-season for the Pirates, and closed 2 games in the 1972 World Series.

After his playing career, Miller was the pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays during their first 3 seasons (1977-79) and later was a coach and scout for the Giants.

He passed away in August 1993 from a car accident at age 54.