The Obit For Al Milnar

Ex-Indian Milnar dead at age 91

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bob Dolgan
Plain Dealer Reporter

Al Milnar, one of the best baseball players ever born in Cleveland, died Thursday in Euclid Hospital at the age of 91.

The left-hander won 18 games for the Indians in 1940 and 14 in 1939, making one American League All-Star team. Today those figures would make him a millionaire. But Milnar's top salary was $12,500.

After he retired in 1946, he worked as a security guard for 22 years at Fisher Body. "It was a very good job," he said in 1985.

Nationally, Milnar is best remembered as the pitcher who gave up the single that extended Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak to a record 56 consecutive games at League Park on July 16, 1941. Indians pitchers Al Smith and Jim Bagby Jr. ended DiMaggio's streak the next night at the Stadium.

From 1939 to 1941, Milnar was the No. 2 Indians pitcher behind Hall of Famer Bob Feller.

"I'm sorry to hear Al died," said Feller. "He was a good guy in the clubhouse, a happy person. He threw hard and was tough on left-handed hitters. He was a good, solid major-league pitcher."

Milnar once received a $200 bonus for defeating the Yankees, 2-1, in 11 innings. He also scored the winning run after hitting a single.

He came close to throwing a no-hitter against Detroit on Aug. 11, 1942. Doc Cramer broke it up with a single with two out in the ninth inning. The game ended in a scoreless tie after 14 innings as Milnar gave up two hits in a complete-game duel with Tommy Bridges.

Milnar was born and raised on East 39th Street near St. Clair Avenue, where his parents had a candy store. His Slovenia-born father considered him a problem child because he was always playing ball, no matter how many times he was spanked. He wanted Al to work, not waste his time.

The Indians signed him in 1933 and sent him to the Mid-Atlantic League, where he was paid $75 a month. His neighbors gave him a huge farewell party when he left. Frank Lausche, later the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio governor and U.S. senator, attended.

In 1934, the high-kicking Milnar won 24 and lost 12 at New Orleans, the Indians' top farm team. The next year he was 24-5, but the Indians still did not call him up because they had plenty of pitchers. "Now they bring a guy up if he's 1-3," Milnar said once.

It took him until 1939 to pitch regularly with the Indians. One of his prized possessions in later years was the bat he received in the 1940 All-Star Game, bearing the names of his teammates, several who went on to the Hall of Fame.

Milnar's career was interrupted by military service in World War II. He had a career record of 57-58.

Milnar is survived by his wife, Ann, to whom he was married 66 years; son, Allen; daughters, Arlene Morrow and Annette Vender; seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Funeral services tentatively will be Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Paul's Church in Euclid.