Born: Pittsburg, Kansas Died: June 29, 1994
Graduated: Pittsburg High School, 1930
Although Ray Mueller was a talented baseball player, it was his persistence and work ethic that got him to the major leagues – and kept him there.
Born March 8, 1912 in Pittsburg, Kan., he teamed with his cousin and future MLB player, scout and manager Don Gutteridge to lead Pittsburg High School to the 1930 Kansas state baseball tournament. Both then played for the Kansas City Southern Railroad’s semi-pro team in Pittsburg, and it was there where they were discovered.
After playing in the minor leagues, Mueller would break camp in 1935 with the Boston Braves, where he was teammates with Babe Ruth. He would play four seasons with Boston, interspersed with trips back to the minors. When Kansas City-native Casey Stengel became manager of the Braves in 1938, he turned to Mueller to take over catching duties. During his major league career, he played with the Pirates, Reds, and Giants.
Mueller earned the nickname of “Iron Man” due to being a durable and reliable option behind the dish. From 1942 to 1944, Mueller caught an average of 153 games per season and set the National League record by catching 233 consecutive games, including all 155 for the 1944 Reds. Over a four-day period, he caught six games, including back-to-back doubleheaders.
Mueller caught 1,598 total games over 23 professional seasons. He was among the best defensive catchers of his era, with a .988 fielding percentage and throwing out 51.9 percent of runners trying to steal. He was an All-Star in 1944 and received multiple first place votes for NL MVP. After his playing days Mueller would work as a coach and scout. He was eventually coach hall-of-famer Willie Mays.
Mueller also made impressive contributions off the diamond. During his historic 233 consecutive game streak, he was inducted into the U.S. Army. He would train in Fort Lewis, Wash., then served as a medic at Moore General Hospital in Swannanoa, N.C.
After he retired from baseball, Mueller worked as a tipstaff in the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pa. He died on June 29, 1994 at the age of 82 and is buried in the Harrisburg Cemetery.
Photo courtesy Mueller Fam