Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Bonus-Baby Bob Miller Persevered, Gained Respect

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Bonus-Baby Bob Miller Persevered, Gained Respect

Article excerpt

The death Friday of Bob Miller in an automobile wreck brought to mind a contrast in playing potential between the 54-year-old former St. Louisan and his bonus-baby colleague, Von McDaniel, when both were 18-year-old tenderfeet.

Under restrictions in 1957 to discourage exorbitant bidding for talent, a new player signed by a big-league team for more than $4,000 was frozen temporarily to the varsity roster.

Frustratingly, Cardinals boss Gussie Busch couldn't bid for stars because of the restrictive reserve clause, but he approved attractive bonuses. At the time $50,000 seemed and spent like $250,000 now.

So with two green youngsters already on the roster, reserve infielder Dick Schofield and second-year pitcher Lindy McDaniel, the Cardinals saddled manager Fred Hutchinson with two more beardless boys who figured merely to polish dugout pine.

They were so dissimilar. Von McDaniel, given a $50,000 bonus to match older brother Lindy's, actually was a couple of months younger than Miller and a country kid from the cotton-chopping Oklahoma country near the Red River. But he was big, strong, and broad-shouldered, a smiling 4-H Club boy.

Miller, naive enough to volunteer that his surname really was "Gemeinweiser," was a city slicker by comparison, newly graduated from Beaumont High. He seemed slight by comparison, physically. And he seemed so young and callow, shy and nervous.

The Gemeinweisers - er, Millers - shielded son Robert Lane's bonus, estimated at $20,000, but it's Jim Toomey's recollection that Miller's father, Max, got his boy the same 50 big ones as the McDaniels.

Amazingly, though his ballfield at home was a sparse patch, V. McDaniel became an overnight sensation as the Cardinals battled to a second-place finish, their highest in eight seasons. He pitched one-hit and two-hit shutouts in a 7-5 season.

Miller? Well, he mopped up in just five games. In nine innings, he had a 7.00 earned-run average.

But Hutchinson, himself a former schoolboy wonder in Seattle, cautioned against expecting too much from McDaniel and, of course, he didn't figure Miller at all as a relaxed rule permitted his assignment to the minors. …

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