Showing posts with label Larry Miggins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Larry Miggins. Show all posts

Saturday, September 24, 2016

How Vin Scully predicted he would broadcast Fordham Prep classmate Larry Miggins' first MLB home run

With Vin Scully’s incredible 67-year run as a broadcaster for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers coming to an end, one of his more inspirational stories involves his Fordham Prep classmate Larry Miggins. In 1952, Miggins was a reserve outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and Scully was splitting broadcast duties with the legendary Red Barber. During a 2013 interview with Miggins, he explained to me how the Fordham Prep alumni crossed paths at the major league level in a most unlikely way.

“I was a senior and he was a junior,” Miggins recalled. “We had an assembly for some reason and he ended up sitting right behind me. He grabbed me by the shoulder and said, ‘Larry, you’re going to be in the big leagues and the first time you hit a home run, I’m going to be the announcer to tell the world about it.’ Can you imagine that? He’s 15 years old. I’ll be damned if it didn’t happen.”

Vin Scully / Wikimedia Commons
During the 1952 season, Miggins found sparse playing time behind two Hall of Famers in the Cardinals outfield, Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter. As the Cardinals started a 16-game road trip, manager Eddie Stanky gave Miggins a rare start. His spot in the lineup on May 13, 1952 set the stage for Scully to earn his stripes as a thinly veiled fortune teller.

“I hit the home run off of Preacher Roe and it just so happened that he only had two innings out of the nine innings of the ballgame because Red Barber took them all," Miggins said. "He had the microphone when I hit that home run and told the whole world about what he had told me back in school in 1943.”

Larry Miggins Signed Baseball Card / Baseball-Almanac.com
For many years, Scully’s improbable tale of predicting that he would broadcast his schoolmate’s first major league home run was one that he told at a multitude of speeches he’s given around the country. Of the myriad of rich baseball experience that Scully’s had throughout his career, Miggins pondered why his was chosen.

“I asked him, ‘Why do you tell that story?’” Miggins said. “He said, ‘What am I going to tell these guys? I’ve got a science degree from Fordham. These guys have masters and doctorates, and are highly educated. What can I tell them that will inspire them? I tell them that story for one reason; it puts something out there that you can shoot at. It may not happen, but it can happen. Have something to drive you to excel in your work to do better and have a goal.’ That’s why he tells that story, so you’ll have a goal to do something that’s almost impossible, and when you strive hard enough, it will happen.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bronx native Larry Miggins recalls Jackie Robinson's first day in the minor leagues

Jackie Robinson’s impact on baseball was felt immediately the moment he stepped on the field for the Montreal Royals in their season opener against the Jersey City Giants on April 18, 1946. In addition to all of the social implications behind Robinson’s debut, his 4-for-5 performance that included a home run, two bunt singles, and two runs scored by causing Jersey City’s pitchers to balk, left an indelible mark on his opposition.

Larry Miggins’ view of Robinson’s eye opening performance remains vivid some sixty-seven years later. The 20-year-old Bronx, New York native manned third base for Jersey City that day and had no trouble recalling how the day’s events unfolded.

“I remember it well,” the 87-year-old Miggins said from his home in Houston, Texas. “It was a full house, 45,000 fans. The place was packed.”

Larry Miggins
As the team went over its pre-game scouting report, information on Robinson’s tendencies were limited to what the manager had seen during batting practice. The Giants and Royals were due to meet in spring training, but the game was cancelled when officials in Jacksonville, Fla., upheld a city ordinance that did not permit mixed racial competition.

“Most of the guys were known by somebody, but when it came to Robinson nobody ever had seen him play,” Miggins said. “Our manager Bruno Betzel said he saw during batting practice that Robinson was a strong pull hitter. He said to me, ‘Miggins, you play him deep at third base.’”

Following his coach’s orders, Miggins positioned himself as instructed. During Robinson’s first two at-bats, the ball didn’t come Miggins’ way, as he grounded out to shortstop his first time up, and then hit a 335-foot home run down the left field line.

Expecting another powerful shot by Robinson, Miggins held his ground behind the third base bag as Robinson approached for his third at-bat.

“Next time up, I’m playing back, deep behind third base,” said Miggins. “He bunted and dropped one down. I could throw a ball through a brick wall in those days, so I pick it up and fire to first base and it was a real close play, safe. He could run too you know. He beat it out.”

Robinson proceeded to hit a single to right-center field during his fourth at-bat, which set the stage for Miggins to have another close encounter with the Royals second baseman. He did not think that Robinson would test him a second time with a bunt.

“Like an idiot, I’m playing him back at third base again the fifth time up. He dropped another bunt down and beat it out,” said Miggins. It was a lesson learned for the young infielder. “I gave him two hits that day and he never bunted again on me because I played him even with the bag from then on.”

Miggins went on to play parts of two seasons in the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1948 and 1952, but his involvement with Robinson’s debut is one that he wears with a sense of pride and humor.

“They got him into the Hall of Fame and there he was, Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a World Series Champ, all because of the great start I gave him in baseball!” said a laughing Miggins. “I gave him two hits opening day and he never stopped from there, he just kept going. I always look back and that 4-for-5 opening day gave him a thrust for his whole career.”