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Miller, son tour Negro Leagues museum

Edmonds, Goldschmidt recall their big league debuts
August 14, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- Cardinals left-hander Andrew Miller decided it was about time he took advantage of playing the Royals in Kansas City to visit the Negro League Baseball Museum. Miller visited the museum, a national attraction since opening in 1990, along with his young son, Max. Museum president Bob Kendrick

KANSAS CITY -- Cardinals left-hander Andrew Miller decided it was about time he took advantage of playing the Royals in Kansas City to visit the Negro League Baseball Museum.

Miller visited the museum, a national attraction since opening in 1990, along with his young son, Max. Museum president Bob Kendrick personally led the tour Monday. Miller said the Negro Leagues have long interested him because of how inseparable its history is from that of the United States.

Miller lamented missing other opportunities to go, having played on American League Central teams that visit Kauffman Stadium frequently, but he was happy to share the experience with Max, born in 2012.

“I’ve always had time, I just haven’t made it,” Miller said Wednesday. “My son loves baseball. He gets to watch games every night because of who I am. Just to take him to check out the memorabilia and history was important. And showing him some of our past that we’re not so proud of -- but also how we’ve evolved.

“We all know about Jackie Robinson. But there’s so much more to the story.”

The memorabilia, statues, films, archived journalism and other details the museum offers impressed Miller, who recalled writing a 15-page paper on the Negro Leagues while in college at North Carolina.

“I couldn’t tell you what my angle was anymore,” Miller said. “I wish I would have had access to the museum as a resource.”

As for the ballplayers themselves, Miller said he appreciates the contributions that Negro League players made to baseball, bringing a style of play that made the game more fun after modern integration in 1947.

“The way they played the game, maybe more aggressively than the Major Leagues were at the time,” Miller said. “The baserunning, the hit-and-run, the bunting for hits, and how that stuff carried over when their players joined the Majors.”

The new guy

Before 24-year-old outfielder Randy Arozarena made his Major League debut Wednesday, teammate Paul Goldschmidt and Cardinals special assistant Jim Edmonds recalled their respective big league debuts and how they might relate.

Edmonds went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts for the Angels on Sept. 9, 1993. But the Angels won the game at Tiger Stadium, and Edmonds made his mark on defense, like many other times in his career.

The first time he touched the ball, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Edmonds threw out Tony Phillips at home plate on a Cecil Fielder fly ball to left field.

“I had so much energy, I came up and threw Tony out at the plate,” said Edmonds, who was 23 years old. “First out of the inning, the first time ever I touched the ball in the Majors. Isn’t it crazy?”

Goldschmidt debuted for the D-backs on Aug. 1, 2011, at age 23 in the middle of a pennant race. He hit a single against Giants right-hander Matt Cain in his first at-bat and also made a play on defense at first base the first chance he had.

“The thing about that day,” Goldschmidt said, “was that we were in the playoff race, like we are now. It was kind of a cool thing to be in that atmosphere where it wasn’t about me. I could just step in and help us win.”

The D-backs won the National League West by eight games over San Francisco, with Goldschmidt being a big factor.

Both players said their debuts were easier for them because of time spent with their respective teams in Spring Training. It’s a factor that could help ease Arozarena’s transition to the Majors.

“It’s not like he just showed up here unannounced,” Edmonds said. “In my experience, it means something to have gone through Spring Training with a lot of the guys in this clubhouse. He has that going for him.”

Arozarena went 2-for-4 in his debut, collecting his first Major League hit and RBI with an infield single off Kevin McCarthy in the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 6-0 victory. He singled to right field off Ian Kennedy in the ninth inning.

Arozarena has said he is leaning on veterans such as Yairo Munoz and Marcell Ozuna to help him adjust. Goldschmidt said experienced teammates like that were indispensable to him.

“Guys like Xavier Nady, Willie Bloomquist, Geoff Blum,” Goldschmidt said. “Those guys were fellow infielders, and Nady was a guy I was technically competing with for playing time. He was the first guy to text me congratulations when I got called up, saying, ‘I can’t wait to see you at the field.’ It was really great to come into a locker room like that where I was just trying to do my part to help.”