Sam Mele, who won more than 500 games as manager of the Twins in the 1960s and guided them to the World Series in 1965, turned 95 on Saturday. Mele was born Jan. 21, 1922 in Astoria, New York.
Before managing the Twins, Mele spent 10 seasons in the majors as a player, playing both right field and first base for the Red Sox, White Sox, Senators, Orioles and Indians. In his rookie year of 1947, he hit .302 for the Red Sox, his best season in terms of batting average. He also hit better than .300 for the Red Sox in 1954, but played in only 42 games.
July 18, 1965: #MNTwins manager Sam Mele settles a disagreement with umpire Bill Valentine. pic.twitter.com/4cjZGdtYr5
— The Twins Almanac (@TwinsAlmanac) January 22, 2017
It was after his days as a player that Mele made a bigger splash as a manager. He became Twins manager in 1961 and quickly produced a winner. The Twins won 90-plus games in ’62 and ’63, 102 games in ’65 and 89 games in ’66, but he was let go in 1967 with a record of 25-25. Despite winning 524 games in seven seasons, the Twins went to the postseason only once, appearing opposite the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ’65 World Series.
The Twins pushed the Dodgers to seven games and beat Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax in the first two games of the series. But then they lost three straight before winning at home to force Game 7. Although they beat Koufax the first time around, Koufax came back to pitch a complete game, three-hit shutout to win the World Series. The Twins wouldn’t win their first until 1987.
Mele never managed again. Instead, he spent 25 years with the Red Sox.