Ralph Miller: Last of the 19th Century Players

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in 1973 Baseball Research Journal

The last survivor of 19th century baseball is Ralph Darwin Miller, who also happens to be the major league player who lived longest. He was born in Cincinnati on March 15, 1873, and as of this writing (January 1973), was nearing his 100th birthday. With the death of Fred Parent in November 1972, Miller became the only living person to have played in the majors prior to 1900. He pitched for Brooklyn and Baltimore in 1898-99 and the rest of his career was spent in the minors. A sore arm ended his playing days in 1903 and he returned to Cincinnati where he resides.

Miller made his debut at Brooklyn in a game against Washington on May 6, 1898, at which time the Spanish-American War was several weeks old.   Miller entered the contest as a relief pitcher for Jack Dunn, who later became famous as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. With the score 8-3 in favor of the Senators after 7 innings, Bill Barnie, the Brooklyn manager, decided to give young   Miller a chance to pitch in what seemed a lost cause. Miller pitched the last two innings, giving up one hit and one run, walked one, and struck out two. In the bottom half of the 9th the Dodgers made a sensational rally to score six runs and make a winner out of the rookie hurler in his first outing.

Some of the more familiar names in the box score were Fielder Jones, Jimmy Sheckard, and Tommy Tucker of Brooklyn, and Jack Doyle, Jim McGuire, and Tom Brown of Washington. The game is a happy but distant memory for Miller, for it took place almost 75 years ago.