Fans today are amazed by how far Josh Thole chokes up on the bat. He had nothing on Felix Millan. If you take a look at Millan’s 1976 card, you might think he was fooling around for the camera. But this was actually how he held the bat when he was up at the plate.

If anything, this pose does not do his batting stance justice. Millan batted with a crouch and held his left arm up, almost covering his eyes. It was as if he was a pitcher, trying to hide the ball as long as possible. Only it was his nose that enjoyed this protection.

Millan was a fan favorite. Fans naturally identify with smaller players and Millan’s listed height was 5’11. More importantly, he gave the club a solid fielder at second base. After watching Ken Boswell and his stone-like hands cover the position previously, Millan, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner with the Braves, seemed like a magician in the field.

But ask anyone who was a fan while Millan was active and the first thing they’ll mention is how he choked up on the bat. He had no power, but he hit .280 seemingly every year. His specialty was a line drive just over the infielder’s head. You kept waiting for a team to play its outfielders 20 steps behind the infielders.

In today’s game, where teams regularly employ shifts against any lefty batter with power, someone probably would have tried this. But back then they didn’t and Millan dinked and dunked his way to 1,617 hits in parts of 12 seasons in the majors.

Millan’s major league career ended after a shoulder injury suffered in a fight with burly Pirates catcher Ed Ott in 1977. Millan took offense at a take-out slide at second base by Ott and foolishly attacked him. After recovering from the shock, Ott proceeded to lift Millan off the ground and drove him into the turf at Three Rivers Stadium.

That led to the Doug Flynn era at second base, a time we’re all better off forgetting.

6 comments on “Mets Card of the Week: Felix Millan

  • Charlie Hangley

    Bravo, Brian!

    I remember all of that…

  • Doug

    Those 743 plate appearances in 1975 were a team record that lasted for over 30 years, until Reyes came along. Felix the Cat choked up on my heart!

  • Nasser Montes

    I remeber seeing him at Shea in 1975 and they had an article about him in the scorecard. The article was called “Me on Base!” (PC was never thought about back then), other than the title it was a great piece and gave some insight why he choked up. His job was to get on base and to let the others like Dave Kingman, Rusty Staub and Del Unser, to get him home. I always thought he was exciting and it gave us little leaguers to make contact and not always swing for the fences.

    • Brian Joura

      I remember that headline! Thanks for bringing it up.

  • Mark Mariniello

    My favorite card of my all-time favorite Met!I just had a T-shirt made with the 76′ card on the front and the stats on the back.I have had the pleasure of meeting Felix at card shows over the years.Sometimes you hear stories about fans meeting their hero and being dissappointed.Not with Felix.He gladly signed my bat,jersey,picture,card,and baseball glove I had as a kid.Good stuff.

    • Brian Joura

      Great story Mark! Thanks for sharing.

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