With Reds’ Dave Miley

By Marc Katz

 

You will not be wrong if you happen by Franklin County High School in Brookville, Indiana, next spring and think you see former Reds Manager Dave Miley coaching the baseball team there.

It will be Miley teaching the game, settling down where his wife Andrea grew up and where most of her family still lives.

Miley, a former catcher in the Reds organization, is so successful a manager in the International League, he’s in the league’s Hall of Fame after several years managing the Reds and Yankees top teams.

His tenure in Cincinnati, however, was brief and uneventful. The Reds fired Bob Boone in 2003 to bring Miley in, and then fired Miley in 2005 in favor of Jerry Narron.

In between, Miley managed two future Hall of Famers in shortstop Barry Larkin and outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., except Larkin was a part-timer in his final two seasons and Griffey was injury-plagued, to say the least.

Ironically, Larkin and Miley played on the same team in the minors as Larkin was moving up, so Miley was part of Larkin’s playing career at both ends.

Miley recovered the loss of his job in Cincinnati to manage the Yankees top farm club, first in Columbus then Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Then, in 2015, the Yankees riddled his 81-63 club with eight September call-ups (including three starters). When the season concluded, Miley was told he wouldn’t be hired back.

Always a baseball guy who defends the franchise rather than show spitefulness, Miley says, “It was time. Everything’s good with Dave Miley. Everything’s good. I’m happy with what I’m doing.”

He was living in Brookville, about 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati, an easy drive to his job in sales at a tool rental establishment. He can also stop by Great American Ball Park to watch the Reds, without all the worry.

Todd Sacksteder, athletic director of Franklin County High School, heard Miley might be interested in being involved with the high school team. Miley even sat with Sacksteder at a couple of high school games last spring, pointing out a couple of things the boys might do better to improve their play.

Sacksteder moved quickly to hire him.

After the announcement, Sacksteder checked a message on his cellphone.

“Who you going to hire as football coach, Lou Holtz?” it read.

Miley, only 54-years-old, began his career as a second-round draft choice by the Reds in 1980 as a catcher, played eight years in the minors, making it to Class 3A before turning to managing, which he has been doing since 1988 – with some time as a roving minor league instructor for the Reds and part of 1993 as bench coach for Reds manager Tony Perez.

“He’s just a very solid guy,” says Sacksteder, who was leery at first. He had other candidates he thought might be more long term. He was replacing retiring Tony Windle, who had been coach of the team since 2004 and led the team to the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference championship this year with an overall 19-5 record.

Sacksteder didn’t want his school to be a stop gap for Miley’s next pro offer.

“The funniest thing is, I don’t miss [pro ball],” Miley says as his first season without it since 1980 heads toward a conclusion. “I would have loved to finish up with the Reds in some capacity. But, you know, 36 years straight, probably seven years of winter ball. That’s a long time.

“You know what? I follow the Reds, and I’ll keep tabs on the big club on the Yankees,” he says. “This opportunity came along with the high school and someone outside asked if I would interested in doing it. Yeah, I feel great. My health is great. I have no worries. I don’t plan on doing it just this year. I plan on doing it awhile.”

Even though he’s back in a bus league, it won’t be nearly what he went through in 2012, when Scranton played its entire schedule on the road while its stadium was undergoing extensive remodeling. Rochester was kind of a home base, but nobody lived there.

“We had a team meeting before the season, as we always did,” Miley says. “I just told them it was unprecedented. I said this is what it is and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

“We had a ‘no gripe’ policy. Once we started the season, we didn’t want to hear anything about it. Nobody cares. We’re just going to go out and play baseball.”

“They went out and played,” Miley continues. “We won the division. They made me look good.”

While managing in the minors (mostly at the top, Class 3A), Miley usually looked good. He hardly ever lost, not when he managed teams operated by the Reds or in the last 10 years, by the Yankees.

He expects to hold fundraisers for the school this winter, and will invite players he managed to take part. Next spring, he’ll be using his own fungo bat instead of just sitting in the dugout telling the kids what to do.

In the minors, baseball people always call the players kids because they’re usually young.

Now Dave Miley will be working with actual kids.

The Reds should be so lucky.

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at katzcopsnsports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@daytoncitypaper.com. 

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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