When The Sporting News began awarding Gold Gloves for fielding excellence in 1957, Roy McMillan received the first three for shortstops. A gutsy professional, universally respected by his peers, McMillan teamed with second baseman Johnny Temple to hold together the infield of the hard-hitting Reds for most of the 1950s. On a team that routinely hit for power in tiny Crosley Field, McMillan’s weak bat was an affordable luxury. A strong arm, exceptional range and durability, and an astute sense of the game belied his bespectacled, mild-mannered appearance.
In 1954 McMillan set a since-surpassed NL record with 129 double plays. His career was spent away from the national spotlight, as he never played for a Cincinnati pennant winner. Ironically, McMillan’s trade to Milwaukee for Joey Jay – who was to lead the NL in wins – brought the 1961 Reds the pitching needed to win their first league title in 21 years. McMillan’s two All-Star Game starts were somewhat tainted by Cincinnati’s ballot-stuffing campaign.
After three years with the Braves, McMillan concluded his playing career with the 1964-66 Mets. His presence brought New York’s previously chaotic infield immediate respectability; he eventually groomed Bud Harrelson to take his place. He started a triple play against the Giants in the May 31, 1964 23-inning marathon that lasted an NL-record of seven hours and 23 minutes.
Also significant was McMillan’s durability. His 584 consecutive games at shortstop from 1951 to 1955 set a NL record. He played 150 or more games in eight different seasons – six in a row – including 157 games for the Mets at age 35. He went on to manage in the minors, coach for Milwaukee and the Mets, and scout. McMillan replaced Yogi Berra as Mets manager for 53 games in 1975.