Bob Meyer has led quite an interesting life, starting with his career in baseball as a left-handed pitcher. Last year he was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. His input was extremely important as I started doing research for my book, so I decided to create a full-length profile for him to post here.
Meyer was born in Toledo, Ohio, on August 4, 1939. He remained in Toledo through childhood and stuck around to attend college at the University of Toledo. Meyer caught the attention of the New York Yankees and was signed as an amateur free agent in 1960. At just 20 years of age, his journey began at Class C Modesto, but he moved up to A level ball in Binghamton by the end of the year.
As Meyer traveled up through the minors he remained a starting pitcher with an earned run average generally below 4.00 to go with a good amount of complete game efforts (including nine with Binghamton in 1961). Meyer was also known as the type of pitcher that could strike out at least a batter an inning, and lowered his walks given up as years passed in the minors. He had what reporters called a “blazing fast ball” that he offset by developing a good curve ball. In college Meyer weighed around 150 pounds, but worked to add more weight and was listed at 185 pounds when he later pitched for the Yankees.
By 1964 Meyer felt it was his year to get the call to the big leagues. In a Toledo Blade article he said, “I think I have a real good chance. They don’t have any more options on me. They’ve sent me out three times and if they do it again my name goes on the waiver list and anyone can pick me up for $25,000.”
Meyer did make the Yankees that season, but by June 11 was sold outright to the Los Angeles Angels. He had an 0-3 record with a 4.91 ERA and had walked 12 and struck out 12. Meyer threw the same amount of innings (18) with the Angels and turned in similar numbers, but lasted less time with the team – roughly seven weeks. While Meyer was with the Angels he picked up his first major league win, a 6-0 victory over the Kansas City Athletics, a team he would later join for the remainder of 1964.
The time in Kansas City proved to be a good run for Bob as he lowered his ERA to 3.86 and threw 42 innings. His second major league victory was very special, and very rare. Perhaps the rarest occurrence in major league baseball is when both starting pitchers throw a one-hitter and both are rookies. First off, both pitchers throwing a one-hitter has only happened about a half-dozen times in baseball history. Meyer made history when the Athletics met up with fellow rookie left-hander Frank Bertaina and the Baltimore Orioles on September 12, 1964.
Bertaina wound up getting the victory in a quiet 1-0 game. Coincidentally both of the hits given up were doubles, but Baltimore followed theirs with a bunt to move the runner to third and a sacrifice fly to push in the game’s only run.
Even though Meyer pitched well down the stretch, he did not make the Athletics roster the following year. He was sent back to the minors and spent the next few years doing his best to get back to the big leagues, but had to deal with some injuries along the way. On August 29, 1969, he was traded by the Athletics (who had since moved to Oakland) with catcher/first baseman Pete Koegel to the expansion Seattle Pilots for veteran pitcher Fred Talbot.
Meyer had a nice run at the end of the season. He appeared in six games with five starts that totaled up to 32.2 innings. Meyer’s 3.31 ERA was impressive, as well as a low 10 walks given up against 17 strikeouts. He set himself up nicely to be a part of the team the following season.
When the expansion Pilots were purchased in bankruptcy court and moved to Milwaukee, Meyer moved with them and was on the opening day roster as a Brewer. He recalls that everyone in the city was excited to have a team back in town.
Meyer says, “I had never been to Milwaukee prior to the 1970 season. First impressions were overwhelmingly positive when we were met at the airport by some reported 10,000 fans. In addition, people were lining the streets waving to us as our bus navigated to the hotel Pfister downtown.”
The early team support was offset by lowered expectations that the team wouldn’t make much noise in the American League West division. Looking back, Meyer agrees with that assessment: “Inasmuch as we were the expansion Seattle Pilots – with just a year in the big leagues, our roster consisted of a lot of players that were on the downside of their careers. Of course you hope everyone can have a good year and the team would flourish. Usually that’s not the case. I don’t think many players felt we’d play .500 ball for the entire year.”
Despite Meyer’s September run with the Pilots, in 1970 he was used out of the Brewers bullpen for 10 appearances. General Manager Marvin Milkes picked up Lew Krausse and George Lauzerique in separate trades and both were inserted into the starting rotation, leaving Meyer as the odd man out. He was needed more as a reliever since the Brewers didn’t have a lefty in the bullpen.
He says, “It was the first year I’d ever been in the bullpen. When I was traded from Oakland to Seattle in 1969 I was a starter (pitched one inning in relief). And throughout my entire 10 years prior to the Brewers I was always a starter. I obviously knew more about starting, but I enjoyed the change. Unfortunately I had arm problems for several years prior and could work around it when starting.”
The team started out with a thud on opening day. Out of the 40 players to wear a Brewers uniform that season, 16 played in the team’s first ever franchise game – including Meyer. He says, “I remember it was a bright sunny day after the previous day being cold and cloudy. We got trounced 12-0. What most stands out regarding that game was our long workout the day before at the stadium. Dave Bristol, our manager, was all charged up and pushed us with a lot of running, etc. I think a lot of the guys were tired from that extended workout.”
Tendonitis derailed Meyer and he was placed on the disabled list in late May along with fellow pitcher John Morris. This opened the door for Dave Baldwin and Ken Sanders to join the team. Meyer would not rejoin the team or play baseball again. Looking at his numbers from two months with the Brewers tells the story that something was wrong. He had a 6.38 ERA and had given up 24 hits in 18.1 innings of work – a far cry from the previous season.
Meyer comments, “When pitching relief – warming up almost daily, as I was the only left-hander – took its toll and I wasn’t much use to the club after the first 60 days of the season. As a player you always hope to get the maximum out of your ability and hopefully to remain pain free or injury free for the year.”
Even though his time in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform was short, Meyer has some good memories of the team. He says, “I roomed with Lew Krausse on the road. At home a lot of the single guys had an apartment together – myself, Gerry McNertney, and Steve Hovely. Overall I enjoyed my time with the Brewers even though I saw the end in sight (due to arm problems). I really liked Manager Dave Bristol.”
Like many other former players in the era of smaller contracts, Meyer left baseball behind, relocated to California and moved into another career. In 1979 he founded BarterNews magazine, which is an independently owned and operated publishing company. Today the magazine has an online presence and is “regarded worldwide as the voice of the barter marketplace.” Barter is meant for entrepreneurs and businesses to use as a way to expand cash flow.
The Barter website states: “BarterNews will provide you all of the information you need to move forward confidently in your bartering activity. Herein you can learn more about various forms of trading and the commercial barter industry than anywhere else in the world.”
Meyer says, “Since playing I’ve enjoyed much success in the business world. I am the founder of an international magazine with much success. I’m also a board member and officer of a biotech hedge fund.”
Besides being editor/publisher of BarterNews, Meyer also has a monthly newsletter and has written a 532 page “Fast Start Barter Program.” He has also been invited to speak at a number of barter industry conventions and to an organization of Fortune 500 companies. The list of Meyer’s industry awards are too numerous to mention, but just one that speaks volumes about his work is a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Trade Exchanges.
But beyond his accomplishments on the diamond and in the business world, I got the sense from Meyer that he is perhaps most proud of being able to beat cancer multiple times and be around for his family. He was married in 1971 and has two sons.
Meyer says, “I have survived four different battles with colon cancer spreading throughout my body, so my perspective on life has been altered in a positive way. I don’t take things for granted. I’m thankful for so many things now that I never gave a second thought to previously.”
I’d like to thank Bob Meyer for taking the time to answer my questions! You can find out more information about him by visiting http://barternews.com/
My book Building the Brewers: Bud Selig and the Return of Major League Baseball to Milwaukee is available to be ordered on the McFarland website.