Happy Birthday, Gary Mielke

It’s the birthday of former Rangers reliever Gary Mielke, born in St. James, MN in 1963. The sidearmer made three appearances with the Rangers in 1987, and another 76 between 1989 and ‘90.

David Greisen contributed a thorough entry on Mielke to the SABR BioProject (click here). I’ll paraphrase.

Gary went to school in St. James through eighth grade, after which the Mielkes moved to North Mankato, and Gary enrolled in Mankato West High School. He earned three letters in baseball at West, and was All-State his senior season (1981). He was also a starting forward on the basketball team his junior and senior seasons.

Despite his success in high school, he received zero scholarship offers. He wound up attending local Division II Mankato State, and even there he didn’t make varsity until the middle of his sophomore season (1983).

Greisen’s SABR BioProject entry includes a badass anecdote from Mielke’s junior season. He was hit by a liner in Grand Forks, breaking his nose and fracturing his cheekbone. Nonetheless, he made his next scheduled start five days later vs. the rival Gophers, earning a suspenseful complete-game 3-2 win.

He was sensational his senior season, not allowing a single run in North Central Conference play, and putting together a 27-inning scoreless streak overall.

The Rangers selected Mielke in the 26th round of the 1985 draft. He made his major league debut on August 19, 1987 at age 24, starting the top of the seventh with the Royals beating the Rangers 10-6 in Texas. The first batter he faced, Frank White, homered. Mielke went on to induce groundouts from the next four Royals hitters.

Three of Mielke’s favorite major league memories are being on hand for Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout in 1989, and his sixth no-hitter and 300th win in 1990. Mielke was such a Ryan fan, in fact, that his son, born three days after Gary’s first major league win, is named Tyler Ryan Mielke. The Mielkes later had a daughter, Chelsea.

Gary threw his final major league pitch on September 30, 1990, inducing an inning-ending double play from Mark McGwire.

Gary Mielke still lives in North Mankato. He has even done some umpiring there over the years. He was inducted into the Minnesota State Mavericks Hall of Fame in 1999.

Read the complete Twins Almanac for January 28–February 3 on Twins Daily.

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