Wednesday, April 24, 2013

#537 - Steve Mingori

Steve Mingori looks kind of lonely showing us the end of his delivery in a shadowy part of the Oakland Coliseum  A more representative shot would be of him midway through his pitch so we could see his specialized three-quarter delivery that he used pretty effectively throughout his career, particularly when it was delivering a screwball. Steve was actually a mighty happy guy around the time of this photo. A lifetime resident of the Kansas City area, he’d recently reached there professionally as well when a June trade brought him to the Royals for journeyman pitcher Mike Jackson. It was a good move for him right off the bat as after a middling start on little use split between Cleveland and Triple A he put up much better numbers on more use in his new home. Back then KC was big on the reliever-by-committee strategy and Steve would do a nice job as both a lefty set-up guy and finisher over the next bunch of seasons.

Steve Mingori was born in Kansas City and grew up in nearby Pittsburg where he was a pitching star at Rockhurst High. After graduating in ’62 he went to Pittsburg State University – then Kansas State College – where he continued to pitch through ’65 when he was signed by the Reds. He went 4-4 that summer with a 3.88 ERA while splitting time between a couple A teams. In ’66 at the same level he went 8-12 in the rotation despite a 2.50 ERA and over a strikeout an inning. From then on it was pretty much all relief as he went 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA in Double A and a 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 57 innings. In ’69 he got a rookie card but his numbers turned south around some military time – he also served in ’67 and ’68 – as he went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA and five saves. Following the season he was traded to Cleveland for Jay Ward.

With the Tribe in ’70 Mingori pitched at every level from Double A to Cleveland, enjoying pretty good success at each one. In Double A he was 6-0 with just eight walks in 63 innings and a 0.83 ERA. In Triple A his ERA rose a bunch but he put up a K an inning. He then debuted up top that August and put up some nice numbers, including a save. In ’71 Steve was having a bang-up season when he went down in August from a freak accident: he was returning to the dugout when an errant throw from an infielder plastered him in the head. His ERA was pretty much the lowest in the league though he didn’t qualify for the title. He had four saves that season and then added ten in ’72 despite his higher ERA. After the off-putting start to his ’73 season he went to Kansas City.

Mingori’s timing in coming to the Royals was pretty much perfect as he got there in conjunction with the team’s significant improvement. The first couple full seasons in ‘[74 and ’75 he specialized in set-up work, putting up a couple saves each year. In both seasons his ERA was well under 3.00. He then moved into closer work in ’76 and had his biggest year, going 5-5 with ten saves and a 2.32 ERA. He got his first post-season work that autumn against the Yankees which would also be the case the next two years. In ’77 he put up four saves and in ’78 seven along with more very good ERA numbers. In ’79 the playoff streak by KC ended as did Steve’s effective relief work as one horrible outing against NY pushed his ERA through the roof and limited his use. His ERA bloated to 5.79 that year and after it he was released. That ended his pitching career and Steve finished with a record of 18-33 with a 3.03 ERA and 42 saves. In the post-season he went 0-0 with a save and a 4.32 ERA in seven games.

After he retired Mingori took a gig in the KC area selling office supplies. That lasted through ’85 when he got back into baseball by coaching in the Toronto system for various franchises. That he did through the mid-Nineties when he then got tired of traveling and opened his own pitching school back in KC. During that time he did some promo work for the Royals and played lots of golf until ’92 when he had to get a neck operation to fix some issues that resulted from his years as a pitcher. By ’04 he was pretty much recovered and he returned to private coaching which he did until he passed away in 2008. He was 64.

Steve has a pretty good card back. He was the Ban Johnson MVP in ’63, which surprised me a bit because I hadn’t known it was a college league. It was while pitching summer ball that he developed his screwball. The cartoon is also interesting because he graduated Pittsburg in ’67 so he must have gone there or elsewhere for an advanced degree. And check out that birthdate. Technically when this card came out Steve was only seven years old.

These two for sure never saw each other during the season. I am hesitant to re-use a guy so quickly but here goes:

1. Mingori and Ed Kirkpatrick ’73 Royals;
2. Kirkpatrick and Duffy Dyer ’75 to ’77 Pirates.eHHeHYeHJh

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