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Mingo-big man with the fast hands

Ron Mingo of the Tri Valley Giants takes a cut this past week at the MSBL World Series

By Jeff McGaw, MSBLNational.com

Ron Mingo is a big man at 6-feet-3 inches and, conservatively, 225-plus pounds. He wears a big guy number – 44 – and he swings a big bat. He has big hands that can dish out a solid high five or an extremely firm, athletic handshake.

If you see Mingo -- it’s hard to miss him – you might assume that that this athletic, 65-year-old may have had some professional athletic experience and in fact you would be right. He played minor league baseball. He was on the Philadelphia Eagles taxi squad – a practice team. He was a sparring partner for the likes of George Foreman, Ken Norton, Jimmy Young, Michael Dokes and Ron Lyle, and was a Golden Gloves boxer in San Francisco for two years.

Nothing about Mingo’s athletic experience screams speed and finesse. He is a tuba not a trumpet, a Mack truck, not a Porsche, a bulldozer, not a riding mower. Oddly, Ron Mingo’s most heralded accomplishment is a monument to speed and finesse.

Mingo, the big man with the big hands, was once the world’s fastest typist. He was clocked at 168 words per minute on a manual typewriter, 180 words per minute on an electric typewriter, and a phenomenal 225 words per minute on a computer.

Mingo’s typing exploits landed him all over the television screen in the early 1970’s. He appeared on the Flip Wilson Show, Good Morning America, To Tell the Truth, What’s My Line, and dozens of local news broadcasts.

"I started taking typing in junior high school in Los Angeles and I fell in love with typing. He set the Los Angeles City School’s record with 118 words per minute on a manual typewriter. He eventually won 18 state typing championships and held two world records.

Mingo played four-plus years in the minors including stints with the Angels, Giants, and Astros. He signed with the Angels in 1966 while playing for Los Angeles City College. He played with Jim Fregosi for a spell. "I want to thank him for giving me a brand new glove in spring training,” Mingo said. "I got an opportunity to bat off Don Drysdale,” he said, "and I hit a line drive to my former high school teammate Willie Crawford in center field.”

Mingo said boxing was the hardest thing he ever did. "I never thought I’d be getting up and running five miles in the morning, but the saying is that ‘when you run out of gas, it’s your you know what.’”

He was one of about 10 sparring partners’ in George Foreman’s camp. Each would go a round with the legend. "You get them ready for their fights and give him a good workout,” he said.

But it wasn’t fun and games in the ring with a serious and sometimes angry George Foreman. "How can I put this,” he said, searching for the right words. "Your life is on the line because you can get killed boxing. You can get hurt. You have to know what you’re doing.”

Mingo went onto teach typing and coach baseball for 32 years in the Oakland and San Francisco Unified School Districts. His demonstrations in front of students – he would type to music sometimes – became legendary and can even still be seen on You Tube.

"Now I’m retired and all I want to do is play baseball,” Mingo said. And play he will. Mingo is on the roster for the Tri Valley Giants 50, 60 and 65 division teams. "I’ll be down here for three weeks this year,” he said. "I’m feeling pretty good,” he said in an interview during a 50 Central game against the Chicago Cubs. "It’s a work in progress still. You can still learn something and that’s what I’m doing,” he said. "I just want to wear these guys out as much as I can.”

Of all the things on his vast resume, Mingo said he’s most proud of the typing and the notoriety it brought him. "That’s a very proud time and something I can hang onto forever.”

Baseball, however, "keeps me physically together. I love that,” he said. And not a day goes by when Mingo doesn’t count his blessings. "I tell people I hit the daily double,” he said. "They say how much money did you win?”

Mingo always corrects them. The daily double, he said, isn’t money. "Its two things: I woke up, and I got up. So as long as I hit the daily double every day and I can come out and play some baseball I’m a pretty happy camper.”






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