Congratulations Corky

So imagine that you hire a guy to add shutters and planter boxes to your home, only to find out that he is an active major league baseball player.

Not only that, but he has homered off of Greg Maddux.

And stole home.

The only possible person to fit that description is Corky Miller.

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The 37-year-old catcher is in his 16th professional season, including part of 11 seasons in the big leagues, but the overwhelming majority of his time has been spent in the minors.  As a result, “professional athlete” has not been his only occupation.

“I’ve done everything – you name it,” Corky told me.  “I’ve been a chef, I’ve laid concrete, I’ve laid floors, I’ve done some woodwork, I’ve done construction, and this year I made exterior shutters and planters with a buddy of mine in Chicago as well as doing some baseball lessons for the local teams.  When you spend more time in the minor leagues than the big leagues, you have to have an off-season income.”

Last Friday, Miller played in his 1002nd minor league game before learning two days later that he was being promoted from Louisville to Cincinnati to replace the injured Ryan Hanigan.  When Corky starts against the Cubs on Tuesday night, he’ll be playing in his 200th major league game and his first in 933 days. 

“This call-up is special because I haven’t been up here in two years,” said Miller.  “I worked pretty hard this off-season knowing that Ryan and Devin (Mesoraco) were going to be in the big leagues but I had to be ready in case something happened.

“That’s 200 games over 11 seasons.  It’s probably not a big feat for a lot of guys.  Hopefully it winds up being a couple more than that.”

Miller has played for five major league teams – Cincinnati, Atlanta, Minnesota, Chicago (AL), and Boston – but has spent the bulk of his career in the Reds organization including a franchise-record nine different seasons with Triple-A Louisville.  On April 6th, the Bats gave away Corky Miller bobbleheads.

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“My son says that his favorite team is the Louisville Bats,” said Miller with a laugh.  “I’ve spent nine years there and having a bobblehead was kind of the icing on the cake.” 

Miller’s major league highlights include a two home run game vs. the Cubs as a rookie in 2001, and that home run off of Maddux in 2002.

“Everybody brings that up,” said Miller.  “It was just another homer at the time, but I’m sure I’ll tell my kids about it when he’s in the Hall of Fame.”

The bulky catcher also stole home in his 10th major league game.

“It’s my only stolen base period,” Corky told me.  “There were runners on first and third and we had the squeeze play on.  I think that Omar Daal was on the mound at The Vet in Philadelphia.  He picked up his leg and I broke for home thinking that the batter was going to lay down a squeeze bunt and Daal threw over to first.  By the time I slid home it wasn’t even close.  What stands out in my mind is that we won the game 2-1.  I was fast back then.  After you catch about a thousand games in the minor leagues you get kind of slow.”

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I got to know Corky in 2006 when I was a broadcaster for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox and he was one of our catchers.  On Monday in the Reds dugout, I asked him the following question:  “Of the 750 players that are currently active on major league rosters, do any of them appreciate being here more than you do?”

“I don’t know about that, but I appreciate it big time for me and my family,” said Miller.  “Just getting another chance to be around this atmosphere with these guys – especially with the quality of ball club that we have.  Hopefully I’ll be around at the end of September and get to watch what’s going on.”

In other words, he’s in no hurry to hang shutters.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net

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