Before Dyar Miller was a pitching coach for the Cardinals and Indians and the Tigers, he crafted a seven-year Major League career of his own, split among four teams.
Over the course of his 251 mound appearances, Miller made just one start, for the eventual 1979 American League West champion California Angels.
Before he did any of that, though, Miller was a catcher at Utah State University, and a good enough one to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1968.
Things didn’t go so well with the Huron Phils under manager Dallas Green, though, who cut Miller after just four games.
So, at 22, Miller had to make other plans … namely, a sixty-feet-six-inch walk from behind the plate to the pitching rubber. That went well enough that the Orioles signed him in 1969, and he began a slow climb through the minors.
After a single year at Single-A and then parts of three seasons each of Double-A and Triple-A ball, Miller finally got the call in June of 1975. He was a 29-year-old rookie who had just that spring converted from starter to bullpen arm.
That long, winding journey paid off, though, as Duffy stuck, first with the O’s, then with the Angels, then with the Blue Jays, then with the Mets.
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And it was with the Mets that collectors of a certain vintage — my vintage — found Miller for the first time. Specifically, we found him following through on the Shea Stadium mound, decked out in his Mets home pinstripes on his 1981 Topps baseball card.
And that card … well, it popped up once in approximately every 1.3 wax packs that summer.
Truth be told, though, some of those Miller cards might have actually been Pat Zachry or John Pacella or Tom Hausman. Maybe even Ed Glynn, because handedness doesn’t really mean a lot when you’re just learning, just figuring things out.
And, really, what young baseball mind doesn’t think “Duffy Dyer” when it hears “Dyar Miller” — or vice versa?
There was plenty of room for cloudiness, for confusion, is what I’m trying to say.
One thing that’s clear now, though, looking at the particulars of Dyar Miller’s life, is that he’s a fellow Hoosier (fellow to me, at least — I don’t know what state nickname is yours).
Not only that, but Dyar was born in Batesville, Indiana. In case you don’t know, Batesville is home to the Batesville Casket Company, and has been since 1884.
Now, I have no idea if Batesville requires that all babies born in the town be named in such a manner as to pay homage to their namesake company, but Miller’s parents certainly answered that (probably imaginary) call, at least phonetically.
And then there is the matter of his cryptic middle name, listed in various places as “K.”
Could it be … “Killer”?
As in Dyar Killer Miller?
It just has to be, if there is any poetic justice in the world at all.