Mike Miley – 1977 Topps
May 5, 2012
Won’t You Spare Me Over For Another Year?
I remember getting this card as a kid. Scratch that, I remember getting about a half-dozen of these cards as a kid.
Trust me, for the group of kids I was friends with, having spare Angels cards didn’t endear you to trading partners, unless you had extra Nolan Ryans or Frank Tananas hanging around.
Looking at the back of this card, seeing his less than stellar major league career to that point, the best you could do with a Mike Miley was a throw-in just to rid yourself of the doubles or triples.
Then, you notice that he didn’t get a card in 1978. You may have noticed that he wasn’t in the minor league stats for the Angels in 1977.
Then, in early 1978 you read something in a preview magazine about the Angels trying to regroup at short with Rance Mulliniks and Dave Chalk because of ineffectiveness of their prospects and…
…the death of Mike Miley.
Because the Angels were really out of your radar screen even after their big free agent signings (Rudi, Baylor, Grich) you didn’t really notice them all too much. They were in the wrong league and their games were always ‘late game not included’ in the morning newspaper, and in the afternoon newspaper (remember those?) they were two lines and a box score.
So, if you were me, you’d try to figure out what happened. That means a trip to the library to find old Sporting News from before the 1977 season, since you only bought those to get the minor league stats (as you were a junior stats geek already).
Car crash in early 1977.
Then you find out more about Miley. He was a gifted two-sport athlete at LSU and was the starting QB and SS for the Tigers. That’s pretty impressive. Can you imagine the hype now for a college athlete by Miley? ESPN would have daily updates on what sport he would choose.
The Angels being who they were, they thrust him into the system a bit too quickly. He started in AA and showed decent power, but had a lousy 1975 in the PCL (hitting .209 in the PCL was pretty awful) but rebounded with a strong 1976 at Salt Lake and looked like he was going to pan out. He had a little power, some speed, a lot of patience, and was improving defensively.
Then, it was over. Not just his baseball career, his existence.
He’s remembered fondly with stadiums and streets in certain places, sure. But he never really had a chance to establish his legacy in the baseball world, or the real world.
I wrote this about Mariano Rivera’s asking for some perspective. Rivera had a long career, and his ending, while sudden, would not be tragic nor sad.
Miley’s ending was both.
As a kid, I never knew that he was gone when I pulled this card. I threw him into the ‘not good’ pile and left him there.
How would I have reacted if I knew about his untimely passing? The 46-year old me speculates that I would have treated him with more respect than that.
But it’s a far cry from age 12 to age 46.