January 23, 2017

Happy 95th, Sam Mele!

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.

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.

 

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.