Clifford George Melton
(Mickey Mouse or Mountain Music)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 5½" Weight 203 lb.
- High School Black Mountain High School
- Debut April 25, 1937
- Final Game September 29, 1944
- Born January 3, 1912 in Brevard, NC USA
- Died July 28, 1986 in Baltimore, MD USA
Cliff Melton won 86 games over eight seasons in the majors with the New York Giants.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Melton began his pro career with the Asheville Tourists in 1931. After a stint with the Erie Sailors, he joined the Baltimore Orioles in 1932 and was with the club for the next several years, culminating in a 20-win season in 1936. After that season, the Giants purchased his contract.
Melton made his major league debut at the Polo Grounds on April 25, 1937 versus the Boston Bees. He threw eight innings and struck out 13 but was the losing pitcher in a 3-1 game. The 13 strikeouts stood as a National League rookie record until 1954. Splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen in his rookie campaign, he won 20 games and paced the NL with 7 saves. His club reached the World Series, but he struggled there, taking losses in Games 2 and 5.
Melton was a mainstay of the Giants staff over the next several years, starting games as well as appearing in relief. However, he developed bone chips in his elbow and underwent an operation in 1942. He split the 1944 season between New York and the minor league Jersey City Giants. He continued in the minors through 1954, spending five years with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League and serving as a player-manager of the Harlan Smokies and Americus-Cordele Orioles in his final two seasons.
Melton had several nicknames: "Mickey Mouse" after the cartoon character due to his prominent ears; "Mountain Music" from his love of playing the Appalachian music of his native Blue Ridge mountains on the guitar; and "The Towering Cliff of the Black Mountains" due to his height.
Melton married Mary Angela Anello in 1934, and the couple had three children: Mary, Clifford, Jr., and Stephanie. They made their home in Baltimore after his baseball career, and he worked for a lumber company until 1974. He was an avid golfer throughout retirement. Source: Personal research and telephone interview with family member, August, 2005.
- NL All-Star (1942)
- NL Saves Leader (1937)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (1937)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1937)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1937-1939)