John Milner

John Milner

LF, OF, 1B, RF, CF
The Hammer
December 28, 1949
185 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-15-1971 with NYN

BR bullpenJohn David Milner (December 28, 1949 - January 4, 2000), also nicknamed "The Hammer," was an American first baseman and left fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the New York Mets (1971–77), Pittsburgh Pirates (1978–81, 1982) and Montreal Expos (1981–82). He batted and threw left-handed. His cousin Eddie also played in the major leagues.

In a 12-year career, Milner compiled a .249 average with 131 home runs and 498 RBI in 1215 games.

Milner was a talented prospect in the Mets organization, but his recurring hamstring injuries often caused him to miss playing time. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, he grew up a huge fan of Hank Aaron, even appropriating his idol's nickname.

A pure fastball hitter with lightning-quick wrists, Milner debuted with the Mets in 1971 at age of 21. In his rookie season (1972), he hit .238 with 17 home runs in 362 at bats and showed a good eye at the plate. In his career, Milner posted a 1.066 walk-to-strikeout ratio (504-to-473). His most productive season came in 1973, when he hit .239 with 23 home runs and 72 RBI and was a member of the Mets team that faced the Oakland Athletics in the 1973 World Series.

Milner was obtained with Bert Blyleven in a huge four-team trade at the Winter Meetings of 1977.  The Pirates gave up .300 hitting Al Oliver and shortstop prospect Nelson Norman to the Texas Rangers to acquire the two players.  The Rangers had obtained Milner moments earlier from the New York Mets where he had been an inconsistent performer.

Traded to Pittsburgh before the 1978 season, Milner played for the Pirates' team that won the 1979 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. He developed and refined a reputation as a reliable pinch hitter that thrived in pressure situations during his tenure with the Pirates, and was a strong contributor to the championship run with 16 homers and 60 RBI in limited use. He also played for the Expos and returned to Pittsburgh in 1982 for a last run.

Milner's career included 10 grand slams. Three of those came with the Mets in 1976, and two as a pinch hitter for the Pirates in 1979 and 1982; both in August pennant races.

After his playing career, Milner was called to testify at the Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985.

Milner, died in East Point, Georgia following a long battle with lung cancer.


          * On December 8, 1977, Milner was part of a mega-deal trade between the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers. After three months of negotiations, the transaction was completed and involved eleven players.
          * The Mets sent Milner to Pittsburgh.
          * Atlanta sent Willie Montañez to the Mets.
          * Texas sent Adrian Devine, Tommy Boggs and Eddie Miller to the Braves; sent a player to be named later and Tom Grieve to the Mets, and sent Bert Blyleven to the Pirates.
          * Pittsburgh sent Al Oliver and Nelson Norman to the Rangers.
          * The Mets sent Jon Matlack to the Rangers.
          * To complete the trade, Texas sent Ken Henderson to the Mets on March 15, 1978.

Post-Season Appearances

1973 National League Championship Series
1973 World Series
1979 National League Championship Series
1979 World Series
1981 National League Division Playoffs
1981 National League Championship Series


After going hitless on opening day in 1976, Milner hit safely in the next 16 games. He went 26-for-53 with seven multi-hit games, four homers, and 15 RBI during the stretch.

Hitting Streaks

16 games (1976)


    * New York Mets (1971–1977)
    * Pittsburgh Pirates (1978–1981)
    * Montreal Expos (1981–1982)
    * Pittsburgh Pirates (1982)

Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia

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