Mullin, born on November 1, 1917 in Trotter, was an outstanding running back and punter for Redstone and earned All-County honors. He excelled at baseball and honed his skills playing on sandlot teams and semi pro teams in the Brownsville area.
Mullin passed away in 1999. The quotes in this article are from an old interview that I conducted with Mullin when he was a coach with the Montreal Expos in the early 1980’s. Several quotes also appeared in a 1991 article in Sports Collectors Digest.
Mullin recalled his early days as a youth playing sandlot baseball and his dream to become a major league baseball player.
“As a young boy back in the coal mining patch, my dream and ambition was to someday be a major league ballplayer. I’d get up in the morning, especially in the summertime, I’d have my cereal or whatever it was, my mother would put my dad out to work – he worked in the coal mine – I had my bat, which was tacked, a roll of tape to tape the ball when we needed it, and I took off for the ball diamond.
“We played all day. If we didn’t have enough for two teams then we’d play scrub or we’d wind up playing indian ball. I was gone all day – looked forward to it everyday and felt terrible the days it rained.”
While playing football for Redstone, Mullin was undecided about his future.
“I had an offer from Joe Boland, then a line coach at Notre Dame,” Mullin remembered. “He wanted me to take a football scholarship. I decided to stick with baseball and never regretted it.”
After receiving his high school diploma in 1937 he went to Beaumont, TX and then to Lake Charles, LA, a Class D team.
“I signed with the Detroit Tigers in August 1936,” Mullin said. “I finished my last year of high school and graduated in 1937. I was still in high school when they signed me.”
Beginning the 1937 season at Beaumont and the moving on to Lake Charles, Mullin batted .383, with 29 doubles, 17 triples 16 home runs, 89 RBI, 109 runs scored and a .656 slugging percentage.
“I went to spring training with Beaumont,” Mullin explained. “There were 90 minor league players there. A lot of those players already had played three or four years of minor league ball.
“I was signed as a catcher and worked out as a catcher, but I had better speed than they realized. They asked me if I had ever played the outfield, which I had, and they put me in the outfield. Oddly enough I never caught a game of pro ball.”
In 1938 Mullin played at Beaumont and played there again in 1939. He went to Buffalo of the International League in 1940. He first joined the Tigers in 1940.
“I came up the last two weeks in 1940,” Mullin reported. “In spring training of 1941, I had hoped to go north with the big club. The GM said the manager wanted me in Detroit, the GM thought I should go back to Buffalo and play until Hank Greenberg went into the Army. He asked me what I thought. I wanted to go back to Buffalo rather that sit on the bench and when the time came for me to come up I would have been playing and be in a good groove. As it turns out when I came up I was hitting better in the major leagues than I did in the minors.”
Mullin made his major league debut on September 18, 1940. But he suffered an injury in 1941 that cut short his season.
“On July 2 we were in Chicago and I hit a ball to the right of Joe Kuhel the first baseman. It looked like a base hit and I’m running down the line and the pitcher Dietrich, came running over to cover first,” Mullin explained. “Somehow he was on his stomach with his feet on the bag – both feet. I tried to step in between his feet and legs and not tramp on him, and my foot got caught under one of his legs and I went straight up in the air and landed on my right shoulder and dislocated it and was out for the rest of the year.”
Mullin was called to the U.S. Army in 1942 and lost four prime years of his career during World War II.
“I played ball in the service,” Mullin stated. “I never got overseas. I went to a reception center at New Cumberland, PA. I was there a couple of years and we had a baseball team. We had fellows like Tommy Hughes, who pitched for the Phillies, and Elmer Valo and guys like that.
“From there, when they started to ship everybody out, they shipped me to Special Services headquarters in Alabama. A lot of guys I had at New Cumberland followed and we won the championship of Alabama and we played Johnny Pesky’s naval team in Atlanta and went all around. I was named on Mickey Cochran’s All Service team, which trained at Great Lakes Naval Station.”
During the war Mullin returned with the Army team to play at South Union Stadium. Mullin hit a towering home run in that game.
After coming back to the Tigers after the stint in the service, Mullin was selected to two All-Star squads in 1947 – a game in which he saw no action – and in 1948, when he was the starting centerfielder for the American League and had the honor of batting lead-off.
One of the highlights of Mullin’s career occurred on July 20, 1947, Fayette County friends of Pat held a “Mullin Day” at Briggs Stadium, Detroit. A special train brought 150 of Mullin’s friends from Fayette County to Detroit. The Tigers were playing the Yankees on that Sunday afternoon with a throng of 58,000 attending. Between games the Fayette County folks gathered on the field and presented gifts to Pat. Often, on a day when a major leaguer is honored, he has a “bad” day at bat, but not Mullin. The Tigers won both games, 4-1 and 12-11. Mullin slammed out a home run in each of the games.
Mullin retired as a player after the 1953 campaign. He played 10 seasons for Detroit and compiled a .271 average with 87 home runs a 385 RBI.
Looking back on his career he singled out his best game, which took place in 1949.
“In 1949 we went into Yankee Stadium,” Mullin recalled. “I hadn’t started a game, I think for 40 games. I was just pinch-hitting. We were going to play a double-header. The manager called me in and I thought I had been traded. He said “Whatever game they pitch the right-hander I’m giving John Groth a rest.” It was the second game – Vic Raschi started. I hit a home run the first time up, I got an infield hit the next time, then I walked, then I hit another home run, then walked again, then hit another home run! I went to bat six times: I was walked twice, hit three home runs and a single.”
After his playing career Mullin moved into the coaching and scouting ranks – from 1954 to 1956 in the minors. He went to work in 1957 as a scout with the Tigers until 1963. He coached with Detroit from 1963-66, with Cleveland in 1967. After a hiatus he returned in 1979 with Montreal and he retired from baseball after the 1981 season. He had spent 48 years in baseball. Mullin died on August 14, 1999 after battling lung cancer. He was 81.
Mullin was inducted into the Mid Mon Valley All Sports Hall of Fame in 1952.