EUGENE, Ore.– “One of the biggest things that was a wake-up call was, towards the end of spring training, we had 10 or 15 guys get released and it was like, ‘Okay, this really a job.'”
In his second season with Eugene, Emeralds catcher Mike Miller is already seeing the difference between life as a college ballplayer, and life as a pro.
“There are certain things that you do and you don’t do,” Miller said, “because it’s a lot different than college ball. just the way you act on the field. it’s a little more rah-rah in college than being in the dugout.”
“That’s the greatest part about Michael’s attitude, he loves the game,” Michael’s father Greg said.
From playing catch in the back yard, through Michael’s college days at Dallas Baptist. Greg Miller was able to be right there to see his son’s baseball life unfold. But when Major League Baseball’s draft plucks your son from home, and takes him four states away, what do you do? You hop on a plane.
“Last year when we were in Spokane I had no idea he was even coming,” Michael recalled, “Somebody was like, ‘Hey Mike, let’s get a hit!’ I turn around and it’s my dad.”
“I was looking for an empty seat behind his dugout, and sure enough I found one!” Greg said, “When he was on deck, I was able to holler at him, ‘Come on, Miller! Get a hit!’ Then he saw me. It didn’t have a whole lot of impact on his at-bat. Nonetheless it was great to be there.”
But that moment was rare. His family doesn’t get to see him playing this game the way they did growing up, and that’s tough. Michael is a triplet, and is very close with his entire family. So for Michael, moving two thousand miles from the comforts of home can take its toll.
“It gets rough especially being homesick,” Miller said, “Half the year you’re gone, then when you’re back, they’re in school or doing something else so you hardly get to see them.”
“To see Michael, since he was four years old playing baseball, at this level, it’s been a dream come true,” Greg said.
But Michael didn’t get what he expected when he came to Eugene. Where some might expect it to be all about baseball, it’s turned out to be more for this young ball player.
“It was right here, a couple hundred people here, sitting in front of hundreds of the same fans that watch him play on a daily basis,” Miller said.
Michael was a featured speaker at the Ems’ “Fellowship Night,” an event to celebrate faith and athletics, and the first time Miller ever spoke in front of a large crowd.
“In baseball, you fail more than you succeed. if you get out it’s kind of expected but if you get a hit you’re the hero.” Miller said, “Well, here its like, people ask you questions you’re expected to have the right answer. you don’t want to let anyone down by not having the right answer. I feel like that’s a lot different, like, disappointing someone on the baseball field than disappointing someone out here.”
As Michael is finding out, he and many other young teammates will take a crack at baseball stardom, and stumble upon life’s lessons as they go.