Still getting it done in the playoffs two decades later, Tom Brady made his NFL debut in 2001. Do you know what other all-time sports legend made their debut in 2001? Cincinnati Reds catcher, Corky Miller. Yes, thee Corky Miller.
While Miller was never a legend for his batting, his dedication to the Reds organization is what makes him such a great ambassador of Cincinnati and why so many fans will list him as an underrated favorite. Miller has now spent 20 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds in some capacity.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, consider the fact that Miller was with Cincinnati in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s– and now 2020s. It’s safe to say everyone is excited to have the club’s catching instructor back full-time for the 2021 season.
Corky Miller is now a coach within the Reds organization.
And it’s Coach Corky Miller now. With the minor leagues temporarily defunct for the 2020 season, Miller was invited to manage the righteously-named Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League. Much like the Florence Y’alls and other geographically similar teams this past summer, the Slammers played a four-team “City of Champions Cup” outside of Chicago.
Miller’s Slammers handily won the cup with a 21-5 record. Miller has stated, on numerous occasions, his desire to be a big-league skipper. And he wouldn’t be ready for that role, if not for his long journey from learning to teaching.
It was in 1998 that Corky Miller first came to the Reds via an amateur free agency signing. After spending time in the Cincinnati farm system, he was signed off waivers by the Twins. He would weave himself in and out of the wavier wire for for more years until landing with the Chicago White Sox. Corky returned to Cincinnati one year later in the middle of the 2009 season, via a trade for Norris Hopper. And that’s when the club, year-after-year, started inviting Miller back.
Corky Miller helped develop the Reds young catchers.
In fact, from 2009 to 2013, Corky Miller was the glue to it all. He was there when the pitching staff was being turned over, and brought familiarity to the younger call-ups from Louisville. He provided depth, even if it was the back up’s back up, when Ryan Hannigan and Devin Mesoraco suffered their respective injuries.
Miller provided leadership when Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart each came up. And in 2015, the Cincinnati Reds asked him once more to stay and provide leadership as their catching instructor when they drafted Tyler Stephenson. As the 2021 season begins, Reds fans should feel a great deal of pride that Corky Miller has helped lead the defensive development of their rookie catcher.
And make no mistake, Corky wasn’t a slugger but the man could catch. In 2013, he was one of only eight major league catchers to throw out Yasiel Puig– and that’s Puig in his prime.
Not to mention he also pitched a scoreless inning for the Louisville Bats once. And there was that one time he drew a walk, allowing Bronson Arroyo to come to the plate– only to have Arroyo hit a go ahead homer the next at bat. It’s the little things. But that’s pure battery chemistry!
However you look at it, there isn’t anything Corky Miller wouldn’t do for the Reds– or their fans. He once showed up to Redsfest, not even signed to the team. Plain and simple, Corky Miller loves his Cincinnati Reds.
Miller will turn 45 years old this coming season as he returns as the full-time catching instructor, but it’s only a matter of time before he starts to get some looks and begins climbing the managerial ladder.
As for us fans, it’s not often an organization gets this kind of longevity out of an amateur free agent signing. With 20 years in the organization and counting for the Cincinnati Reds, Corky Miller is the one that never got away and continues to provide stability, leadership and passion for the organization.