Felix Millan Once Hit Too Many Singles for the Mets and Joe Torre

Harold FriendChief Writer IFebruary 26, 2012

Today, Felix Millan would be an under appreciated player because all he did was hit about .280, play an excellent second base and help the team win.

Millan choked up on the bat because his job was to make contact. In his five season with the New York Mets, Millan averaged 32 walks and 18 strikeouts a season.

Millan tells youngster that don't have power they can still succeed as hitters.

"A kid who doesn't have power can use it to make contact,"  Millan says. "I knew I didn't have a lot of power. I had to do something. Today, they are all thinking about power."

The day that Millan hit four singles in a game has become a legend. Following each single, Joe Torre hit into a double play.  Torre "blamed" Millan.

Laughingly, Millan responded. "He could've hit a home run or something, couldn't he?"

Torre now claims, jokingly, that Millan's fourth hit one-hopped against the fence but Millan deliberately stopped at first so that he, Torre, would set the record for hitting into the most double plays in a game.

Before the start of the 1973 season, the Mets traded right-handed pitchers Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella to the Atlanta Braves for left-handed starter George Stone and Millan. It was one of the great trades in Mets' history.

If not for Millan's contributions, the Mets would not have won the 1973 pennant, but in the opening game of the World Series, he made a costly error.

In the third inning with two outs and the bases empty, Oakland A's pitcher Ken Holtzman, of all people, doubled off Jon Matlack. Bert Campaneris hit a ground ball that rolled between Millan's legs, scoring Holtzman.

I can still see it in my mind. The ball never bounced. It hugged the ground, Millan went down to field it, but he didn't get the glove close enough to the ground.

Campaneris stole second and scored on a Joe Rudi single for the A's second unearned run of the inning. The Mets lost, 2-1.

"That World Series was a very good experience. I didn't play good," said Millan . "But we were very close. We went to Oakland up, 3-2 and had a very good chance. But that's how baseball is."

Millan was a pesky hitter. In his five seasons with the Mets, he batted .278/.326/.337.

Another Millan memory I have is the day Pittsburgh Pirates' catcher Ed Ott slid hard into second base attempting to break up a double play.

MIllan didn't take kindly to Ott's efforts. There was a scuffle in which Ott picked up Millan and slammed him to the ground. Millan landed on his right shoulder, basically ending his career.

As I have said numerous times when writing about the Mets, I am a New York Yankees' fan, but I have followed the Mets since their inception. They have a great history and deserve more respect than they have received.