BOSTON, MA-Sabath Anthony "Sam" Mele, a former Red Sox outfielder/first baseman and a longtime instructor and scout in the organization, passed away last night at 95 years old in his home in Quincy, MA.
Originally signed by Boston as an amateur free agent prior to the 1946 season, Mele played in 1,046 major league games over 10 years (1947-56), including parts of five seasons with the Red Sox (1947-49, 1954-55). In 263 games with Boston, he batted .278 (234-for-842) with 35 doubles, 10 triples, 21 home runs, 129 RBI, and 120 runs scored. He appeared in 201 games (184 starts) in the outfield, as well as 23 games (21 starts) at first base. As a rookie in 1947, Mele batted .302 (137-for-453) with 14 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 73 RBI, and 37 walks against 35 strikeouts.
The nephew of former major leaguers Tony and Al Cuccinello, Mele also played for the Washington Senators (1949-52), Chicago White Sox (1952-53), Baltimore Orioles (1954), Cincinnati Redlegs (1955), and Cleveland Indians (1956). In his major league career, he batted .267 (916-for-3,437) with 80 home runs and 544 RBI. He tied for the American League lead with 36 doubles in 1951, a season in which he also recorded a career-best 94 RBI. He hit at least 10 home runs in five seasons, recorded more than 100 hits five times, and drove in at least 50 runs in six seasons. In 839 career games in the outfield, Mele recorded 67 assists and was a part of nine double plays.
After playing in the minor leagues from 1957-58, Mele turned to coaching and worked with the Senators from 1959-60. When the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961, he managed the Twins for parts of seven seasons (1961-67), going 524-436 (.546) and winning the 1965 American League pennant with a 102-60 record. The Twins finished with more than 90 wins in three of Mele's five full seasons with the club. Named The Sporting News' Manager of the Year in 1965, Mele also managed the American League All-Star team in 1966.
Following his managerial career, Mele returned to his home in Quincy and spent 25 years in the Red Sox organization working as a special assignment instructor, cross-checker, and scout from the late 1960s to the early 1990s.
Born January 21, 1922 in Astoria, NY, Mele attended Yale University and New York University after graduating from Bryant High School in Astoria. He served in the Marine Corps from 1943-46 prior to signing with the Red Sox.
Mele and his wife, Connie, were married for 62 years before she passed away in 2011. The couple had five children: Steve, Sherry, Scott, Marsha, and Marilyn.