Chinooks honor Miller with bobblehead

Keepsake commemorates former player now with the Guardians hitting for the cycle twice in three days

CLEVELAND GUARDIANS INFIELDER Owen Miller from Fredonia was once a Lakeshore Chinook who hit for the cycle twice in three games in 2017. Photo by Sam Arendt

By MITCH MAERSCH

Ozaukee Press staff

This Saturday’s promotional bobblehead for the Lakeshore Chinooks fittingly has former player Owen Miller riding a bicycle.

It illustrates Miller pulling off one of the rarest feats in baseball history at any level.

In 2017, Miller hit for the cycle on July 3, then did it again on July 5 — in the Northwoods League comprised of college players.

Now a Cleveland Guardians infielder, he hadn’t hit for the cycle in his entire career at that point, and he came through in the clutch both times with the toughest hit to get — a triple — to achieve the rarity.

In the first game, a 16-8 win at the Kalamazoo Growlers, Miller came up with two outs in the ninth. He clobbered the first pitch to center field.

“I knew I just needed a triple, and as soon as I saw it go over the center fielder’s head, I knew I had a chance,” he said in 2017.

Miller went 5-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored.

His at-bats leading up to the dramatic ninth inning included: second inning, first-pitch single; third inning, two-run homer on 2-0 count; fifth inning, single to left field on 0-1 count; sixth inning, double on 1-1 count; and seventh inning, first-pitch RBI sacrifice fly to center.

Things looked as improbable the second time.

In the eighth inning of a 21-6 home rout of the Rockford Rivets, Miller walked in a seven-pitch at-bat. He figured the opportunity was missed.

But the Chinooks kept hitting. They batted around in the inning, and Miller came up for a second time.

He smacked the first pitch to the right-center gap — exactly where he was aiming.

“Once I saw it roll past the center fielder, I thought I had a good chance to make it,” he said.

Miller went 5-for-5 in the game with 5 RBI, four runs scored and the one walk.

Before the pivotal eighth inning, Miller’s at-bats went like this: first inning, 2-2 count, fouled off two pitches before doubling to center field; third inning, single to third on a 1-1 count; fifth inning, single to left field on a 1-1 count; seventh inning, two-run home run to left field on 1-2 count.

The fact that the game was at home made it all the more special.

“Just looking at everybody on their feet in the stands is something I’ll never forget,” Miller said.

Miller grew up in Fredonia and played with Hitters Baseball, a youth travel organization in Racine. He didn’t play on the Ozaukee High School team because Hitters and the Warriors both played during summer.

After graduating high school in 2015, Miller starred at shortstop for Illinois State, where as a junior he hit .384 and broke the school record for hits with 88.

In 2018, Miller was drafted by the San Diego Padres with the sixth pick in the third round, 84th overall.

He played for the Tri-City Dust Devils, the Padres’ Class A short season affiliate in Pasco, Wash., and made the all-star team. He was promoted to Fort Wayne Single-A ball and sent to Double-A in Texas for the playoffs.

Miller spent the next season with the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles, where he made the all-star team, led the Texas League in hits and helped the team to the league title.

The following year, Miller was a non-roster invitee to the Padres Major League Camp, but the pandemic forced everyone to go home.

In 2020, Miller was traded to Cleveland and made his Major League debut last May.

Miller is hitting .245 with the Guardians this season, has primarily played first and second base, and he has been a designated hitter.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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