Sunday, April 19, 2015

Corky Miller: Minor League Legend

Tom Archdeacon profiles the former minor-leaguer and occasional Cincinnati Red who's now a coach for the Dayton Dragons:
The new Dayton Dragons coach played 17 seasons of professional baseball. A journeyman catcher, he was called up to the major leagues on 11 different occasions — seven times by the Cincinnati Reds, once each by Minnesota, the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta — and played for seven minor league teams, including a record 10 seasons and 548 games with the Triple-A Louisville Bats.
He’s something of a real life version of Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis — also a journeyman minor league catcher — in the movie Bull Durham. Miller, though, is less grizzled and more easy-going than the silver screen character.
In Louisville, he just might make the city’s Mount Rushmore of athletes now, his likeness chiseled right alongside Muhammad Ali, Rick Pitino and one of the great Kentucky Derby winners, like War Admiral, Secretariat or Citation.
On Aug. 31 last summer, Miller’s No. 8 was retired by the Bats — the first time the Louisville club ever so honored a player....
In the offseason he had jobs with a demolition crew, laying floors, pouring concrete and being a short order cook.
On the field he was meat and potatoes, too.
Although not much of a hitter, he was a superb catcher — in 2003, International League managers named him the league’s best defensive catcher — and he was especially adept at working with up-and-coming pitchers.
And along the way the legend was further enhanced by some unlikely exploits. Five times in his career he was brought in to pitch and promptly floated up knuckleballs, which he learned to throw from former big-league pitcher Jared Fernandez.
Stocky and not known for his speed, Miller had one stolen base in his 216 major-league games. And, of course, it was of home plate.
I always liked Corky Miller, but I didn't realize he threw a knuckleball.  Now I like him even better.

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