Former manager, coach Miller dies at 76

May 5th, 2021

Ray Miller, the longtime big league pitching coach who worked for the Orioles, Twins and Pirates and who managed Baltimore when Cal Ripken Jr. decided to end his Major League record consecutive games played streak in 1998, died on Tuesday. He was 76.

An Orioles Hall of Fame inductee in 2010, Miller tutored several generations of Orioles hurlers across three stints as pitching coach, from 1978-85, 1997 and 2004-05. He succeeded Davey Johnson as manager in 1998, posting a 157-167 record over two seasons at the helm in Baltimore. Miller also managed the Twins from 1985-86 and served as the Pirates’ pitching coach from 1987-96.

On Sept. 20, 1998, Ripken walked into Miller’s office to announce he was ending his record consecutive games streak at 2,632. Miller then tabbed rookie Ryan Minor to replace Ripken at third base that evening.

“It was pretty emotional for me,” Miller told The Baltimore Sun later that night. “He told me one of the reasons he did this was me, and that really made me feel good. That’s the one time I choked up. He said it was his decision for several reasons, ‘and one of them was for you.’ And that made me feel pretty special.”

The Orioles didn’t contend during Miller’s two years at the helm, but Baltimore won the 1979 American League pennant and the ’83 World Series with him as pitching coach. Five pitchers won at least 20 games under his tutelage -- Mike Boddicker (20) in 1984, Scott McGregor (20) and Steve Stone (25) in 1980, Mike Flanagan (23) in 1979 and Jim Palmer in 1978.

“I want to send my condolences to the Miller family,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said. “He was an Orioles Hall of Famer and a great man in baseball. I wanted to give my best wishes to his family.”

A Takoma Park, Md., native and longtime resident of Athens, Ohio, Miller pitched in the Giants, Indians and Orioles systems from 1964-73, but he did not reach the Majors as a player. He shifted to the coaching ranks in ’74, working in the Orioles system until ’77, then briefly as the Rangers’ pitching coach before shifting to the same role with Baltimore in ’78. His success in Baltimore made Miller a hot managerial candidate by the mid-'80s; and he succeeded Billy Gardner at the helm in Minnesota in ’85, going 108-130 in parts of two seasons before being replaced by Tom Kelly.

“The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the loss of Ray Miller,” the Twins said in a statement. “We send our condolences to the entire Miller family, as well as the other major league organizations that were impacted by his long career as a respected coach and mentor.”

Miller spent the next 10 seasons as the Pirates' pitching coach, helping Doug Drabek win the 1990 NL Cy Young Award and the team to consecutive postseason appearances from ’90-92. Pittsburgh sported one of baseball’s best pitching staffs during that time; its 3.40 staff ERA over that three-year stretch tied with the Dodgers for the lowest in MLB.

“Ray Miller was a beloved member of the Pirates organization for 10 seasons whose passion and dedication played an instrumental role in the team’s three straight postseason appearances from 1990-92,” the Pirates said in a statement. “He was respected not only as a pitching coach by players in the Pirates organization, but also throughout the entire game of baseball. We are saddened to hear of his passing and offer our thoughts and prayers to his family during this difficult time.”

All told, Miller spent four decades in baseball as a player, coach and manager. He retired with an overall managerial record of 266-297.