In the movie he’s a minor league catcher who once made it to “the show.” In real life he’s a minor league catcher who once made it to “the show.” Corky Miller is Crash Davis, even if he thinks the comparison to Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham is a little far fetched. “He was there for one guy,” Miller said. “I feel like I’m out here for 24 other guys.”
Miller has actually made it to the big leagues more than once. He’s been called up 11 times in 15 years, but never for long. Corky has played in 199 major-league games with six teams. He’s also played in nearly 1,000 minor league games with nine teams. This season he’ll head back to the Reds’ triple-A affiliate in Louisville for the eighth time.
The 37-year-old told me this week he has no regrets about his career and he’s not ready to quit. “I was just a non-drafted free agent who kind of battled his way through and through a series of good play and circumstances finally got the chance in 2001,” Miller said. “It makes you hungry and makes you want to do it, but it also shows you can reach your goal once you set it so it makes you set more goals.”
Miller’s defense and ability to work with pitchers has kept him in the game, while problems at the plate have kept him in the minors. In 2000 Corky was voted by Southern League managers as the player you would want most in your clubhouse and the player who will make the best future manager. “We’ve looked at that road a couple of times,” Corky said. “I believe I’m still able to play so I might as well try that.”
Like the mythical Crash Davis, Corky Miller can tell the young kids he was once in “the show.” And like Costner’s character he knows he probably won’t get there again. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to start working for a living just yet. “I’ve had all kinds of jobs and nothing beats coming out here and playing,” says Miller.
“You still have to go out there expecting to get better every day. As soon as you stop doing that, that’s when you have to stop trying.”