Baseball is a Miller family staple
SEATTLE -- As an avid baseball fan and former college player, Steve Miller enjoyed nothing more than taking his wife and two kids to Major League stadiums around the country when the youngsters were growing up. So imagine his joy now as he watches games around the Majors with his son, Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, smack in the middle of the action.
"That's pretty cool," said the elder Miller. "I collected baseball cards as a kid, and now he's on a card. You go to games, and now he's out there playing. That part, as a fan, is absolutely wonderful. The part as a dad gets a little tougher. You see him strike out or have a tough time, it's a little harder. You always just want the best for them."
Steve Miller played baseball at Northern Iowa, where he earned a degree in finance and has gone on to a successful business career. He's now senior vice president of The Park Bay Group at Morgan Stanley in Orlando, Fla., where the Millers grew up not far from Ken Griffey Jr.'s home.
Baseball was a constant for the Millers, who built family trips around traveling to various ballparks and spent most of their spare time playing or attending games. Steve coached his son through Little League and youth ball until Miller reached high school.
"All our family vacations growing up were centered around going to see a new stadium or going to a place we could catch some baseball," Brad said. "He grew up in Iowa and was a big Twins fan, so I grew up watching VCRs of the World Series and Kirby Puckett, Jack Morris and all those guys in the late 80s and early 90s. That was my first taste of baseball, and we had that father-son bond through that."
The fact his son turned into a Major Leaguer was just an added bonus for a dad who introduced his kids to the game at an early age and then let them run with it. His daughter, Megan, was a softball standout in high school and now works as a photojournalist in Los Angeles. Brad is in his third year with the Mariners after being drafted in the second round out of Clemson in 2011.
"I was a baseball guy, and our kids became fans at an early age," Steve said. "Brad had probably seen games in 10 big league stadiums before he ever played in one. His first big league game was at Colorado when he was 5. We just like baseball. Brad just happened to turn out to be able to play it."
Steve Miller, 56, played outfield and backup catcher in college and enjoyed coaching at the youth level, but his professional life now revolves around being a financial adviser and running a business. He said he turned over the coaching to others when Brad turned 14. But his influence clearly remains strong in his 25-year-old son's life.
"The one thing for me growing up is he stressed there are a lot of parallels between his business or any business," Brad said. "Obviously that's what he knows. That's his profession. And it starts with working hard and treating people the right way. There's no substitute for that. He was the first person in his family to go to college and get a degree. He really came from nothing and made something through hard work, so I obviously look up to him a lot and it speaks to volumes to his character."
And when it came to working on the game they both love, Steve Miller was -- and still is -- always available to help any way he can despite his own business obligations.
"He was always definitely willing," Brad said. "He instilled my love for baseball, for sure. It was something we both enjoyed doing. We lived close to the Little League field, so we were always going up there. And in the offseason we have a little net in our garage that we'd hit in at nights after his work. We'll still do that to this day. It's just something fun for us and he obviously has seen me grow up and has been there every step of the way. It's fun to share it with him."
And that clearly works both ways.
"Since he grew up being a fan of the game, we'll talk about trades or things that happen," Steve Miller said. "We talk like fans. Playing as long as you can is a bonus, but I think he'll be around baseball in some capacity his whole life because he was brought up to enjoy the game. I wanted to go to every stadium even before he started playing and this has just made it all the better. We're enjoying the ride."