August 4, 1899|
|Died: November 14, 1963
|April 18, 1926 for the St. Louis Browns|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 18, 1937 for the Boston Red Sox|
A native of Chicago Illinois, Melillo reached the majors in 1926 with the St. Louis Browns, spending nine and a half years with them before moving to the Boston Red Sox (1935–1937). Basically a line-drive hitter, he enjoyed a good year in 1929 ending with a .296 batting average in 141 games, hitting for the cycle on May 23. His most productive season came in 1931, when he hit .306 with five home runs, 88 runs, 189 hits, 34 doubles and 11 triples, all career numbers, while adding 75 runs batted in, a significant offensive contribution for a middle infielder of his era.
A fine defensive second baseman, in 1930 Melillo handled 971 chances without committing an error (17 fewer that Nap Lajoie's 1908 major league record). In 1933, he hit .292 with a career-high 79 RBI and posted a .991 fielding average that stood for more than 10 years.
In a 12-season career, Melillo was a .260 hitter (1316-for-5063) with 22 home runs and 548 RBI in 1377 games, including 590 runs, 210 doubles, 64 triples, and 69 stolen bases.
Following his playing retirement, Melillo had his only chance to manage at major league level when he became a late-season replacement for Gabby Street as manager of the Browns in 1938. Melillo finished with a 2-7 mark (.222). He later served as a coach for the Cleveland Indians for several years under Oscar Vitt and Lou Boudreau, including the 1948 team, which won the American League pennant, and also coached under Boudreau with the Red Sox and Athletics.
Melillo died of a heart attack in his home city of Chicago at the age of 64.
- Nicknamed Ski and Spinach.
- Because his career and his life were threatened by Bright's disease, an often fatal kidney inflammation, Melillo immediately followed a doctor's advice and began a prescribed diet of spinach, and nothing but spinach, until cured.
- He also suffered from Zoophobia, a generic term form the class of specific phobias to particular animals, including rabbits, birds and snakes. His animal phobia led to many pranks from both opposing players and teammates. It is chronicled in Elden Auker's book Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms (ISBN 1-892049-25-2, 2001).
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- The Deadball Era
- Roseland, Chicago Sports Hall of Fame