When Miller was called up by the Cardinals in mid-1952 and manager Eddie Stanky first saw the harmless-looking, 165-lb pitcher, he asked the clubhouse man, “Who’s that stenographer?” In his initial start that August 12, Miller shut out the Cubs 1-0. When he first faced the Dodgers, he no-hit them into the eighth inning. But he struggled after his rookie season and spent time in the minors before emerging as one of baseball’s best relievers.
It was said that Miller threw at three speeds – slow, slower, and slowest; that “he threw a pitch that stopped”; and that “if you wait five minutes, the ball gets to you fairly fast.” He got by on a variety of curveballs and by changing speeds on his changeup. With his herky-jerky windup, he baffled hitters in both leagues. With the Giants in 1958, he recorded a league-best 2.47 ERA, starting and relieving. He was the NL Fireman of the Year in 1961, when he registered league highs of 17 saves and 14 relief wins. Well-remembered for being literally blown off the mound by a gust of wind at Candlestick Park in the ’61 All-Star Game, he won the contest, striking out Mickey Mantle, Roy Sievers, and Elston Howard in succession.
Miller saved 27 games to win his second Fireman of the Year Award in 1963, his first season as an Oriole; he broke the AL record by appearing in 71 games. That April 30, he combined with Steve Barber to no-hit the Tigers, though the Orioles lost 2-1 because of walks, a wild pitch, and an error. When Miller retired in 1968, he was third, behind Hoyt Wilhelm and Roy Face, in career saves and in wins plus saves. He has since been passed by more than a dozen relievers.