Tuesday, March 03, 2009

#564 Mel Nelson

NELSON.jpg #564 Mel Nelson picture by brotz13
This is not, I daresay, a flattering photograph of Mel Nelson. Based on the angle and the pose, his head appears to be shaped like a torpedo. They also seem to have caught him off guard, hence the facial expression that falls somewhere between a sneer and a squint. For a more becoming snapshot of Mel, check out his 1966 Topps card.

Fun facts about Mel Nelson:

-Signed with the Cardinals in 1954 as an amateur free agent out of San Diego, CA.

-Began his pro career as an outfielder, hitting .296 with 27 home runs at Class C Fresno in 1955.

-Converted to pitching in 1956-1957. A 13-7 record at AAA Spokane earned him a promotion to St. Louis late in the 1960 season.

-Struck out the first two batters he faced (Maury Wills and Charlie Neal) in a scoreless inning of relief in his major league debut.

-Did not pitch in the big leagues again until 1963, by which time he was a Los Angeles Angel. Put up a 5.30 ERA in 52 and 2/3 innings, mostly out of the bullpen.

-Re-emerged in 1965 with the Twins, pitching to a more-respectable 4.12 ERA in 54 and 2/3 innings.

-Joe Torre and Hank Aaron were each 0-for-6 in their careers against Mel.

-He pitched a single third of an inning of major league ball between 1966 and 1967.

-Finally had something approaching success in 18 games with the Cardinals in 1968. The 32-year-old had a league-average 2.91 ERA, a complete-game six-hit win over the Braves, and a scoreless inning of relief in the World Series.

-Spent the bulk of 1969 and all of 1970 at AAA for the Cardinals, Twins, and Braves before hanging up his spikes.

-Went on to become a baseball scout, signing future major leaguers Dmitri Young (Cardinals) and Jason Hirsh (Astros).
#564 Mel Nelson (back)


  1. he looks like a 'that guy' actor in this shot, of course, being a that guy, i cannot think of his name, or oddly enough, even a film with him in it. but think military and police flicks (not tackleberry, although he does have a little david graf in there too...) am i just rambling here at 4:30am, or are you following me?

  2. Not to change the subject but... I can't view the card pix here at work so when a Twin shows up I go to twincards.com. I just noticed that Mudcat Grant's card is blue while all the rest are purple. Couldn't be a late trade because Grant finished the '64 season with the Twins. Hmmmm.

  3. Max - If you're thinking of Gary Sinise (Apollo 13, Forrest Gump, CSI: NY), then I'm totally with you.

    Bob - I never saw that! (I don't have the Mudcat Grant card yet.) Could just be an error. For instance, I have a Bret Boone rookie card from 1993 Topps that has the Marlins color scheme on the back, when he was actually with the Mariners.

  4. not gary sinise, but along those lines. i do see a little lt. dan in there...

  5. Nelson's 1969 card is excellent as well. He is listed with the Cardinals, with a picture in a dark blue hat that has to be from 1960. A ten year old picture.