April 20, 2010
After some river fishing and playing with the Peninsula Oilers of the Alaskan Baseball League this summer, Michael Miller is back at Oregon State. Whether he is at hitting practice or hitting the books, Miller is a hard worker and his dedication to it all shows both on and off the field.
How did you get into baseball?
“I am the middle child of three boys, and all of us are left-handed, which some would say is a blessing in baseball. Growing up, I always idolized my older brother, Marcus, and was his team’s batboy. I finally had the opportunity to begin playing organized baseball in second grade, just like my older brother. In addition, throughout my childhood, my brothers and I would also play games of whiffle ball in our backyard.”
When did Oregon State start recruiting you?
“Oregon State first began recruiting me after my junior year of high school. While playing a tournament in Eugene, I received a call from my older brother and he demanded I turn on ESPN and watch Oregon State play in the World Series. At the time, I was not very familiar with the program, but within a few minutes, it became obvious that they ‘played the game right.’ A few weeks, and one national championship, later one of my good friends, who was house sitting for my family, called and told me Oregon State University had called my house. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wanted to become a Beaver.”
What made you choose Oregon State?
“Oregon State University offered the complete package that I was looking for in a college. They had an elite baseball program, a beautiful campus, and the academic subjects I was interested in studying. One of the biggest things that impressed me about the Oregon State coaches is that they were honest with me. They did not tell me what I wanted to hear in order to persuade me into signing with OSU. They told me they had many great returning players, and that I would have to work as hard as possible to earn a spot on the field. I knew in the long run, this would not only make me a better player, but also make a better team.”
What was your first impression of Oregon State and how has that changed since you've been here?
“My first impression of Oregon State was hitting with Jordan Lennerton and Lonnie Lechelt, a fellow eastern Washingtonian, in the batting cages on the first day of practice. Up to that point in my life, I do not think I had ever seen anyone hit the ball as hard as those two. I was now playing with guys I had seen on TV, and aside from Jorge Reyes, I did not know anyone on the team. At times I felt very much like a freshman. Over time, I realized that I was now in the same ‘shoes’ as the guys I had watched over the past couple years, and part of a 35-man team. The guys like Jordan and Lonnie became good friends, although I still don’t hit the ball quite as hard as they did.”
What do you think about the coaching staff?
“The coaches at Oregon State have not only taught me about the mental and physical parts of baseball, but also about being successful in life. Each coach offers something different to the team. Coach Bailey studies hitting as much as any coach I’ve ever had, and uses his knowledge to work endlessly with our hitters. Coach Lees has a deep passion and energy for the game, and brings that to the ballpark each day. Coach Yeskie is constantly paying attention to details and as the pitching coach, studies each hitter in order to find ways to get them out. He has helped me understand my weaknesses and how opposing pitchers may pitch me, which helps me improve upon those weaknesses in practice. And lastly, Coach Casey has taken my personal competitiveness and given it purpose and direction. He has taught me more about baseball, and life, than any coach I’ve ever had. I am certain that any player who has played for him has left the program more motivated, mentally strong, and better prepared for the rest of life than when the first entered the program.”
Do you have any pre-game rituals and, if so, what are they?
“I do not have many rituals before a baseball game. I always hit before games and have a good meal. I also spend a few minutes thinking about growing up, family, and the game plan for that day.”
If you didn't play baseball, is there any other sport you'd want to play?
“I have grown up playing a variety of sports, and enjoy them all for various reasons, but if I had to choose one sport besides baseball, I would most likely choose basketball.”
How important are academics to you?
“Academics have become an important part of my daily life. Both of my parents are teachers, and they have always emphasized academics. One thing we often talk about here at OSU is that we are student-athletes, and not just athletes. Although we spend a lot of time with baseball, it is important to also have a passion for academics. Secondly, my little brother Matthew is now in college, and we enjoy a brotherly competition as to who can get better grades. So far, he’s been pretty good competition.”
How do you balance your time as a student-athlete?
“Learning to balance my time has a student-athlete has been a process. As a student, you have required class times, but also must make time for extra studying. The same goes for baseball. We have required practice times, but it is also necessary to spend time on your own putting in extra work. Before I allow myself to spend extra time with baseball, I make sure to have my academic work done first.”
What's been your favorite class here at Oregon State?
“My favorite class has been Philosophy 325, Scientific Reasoning. The course, by definition, included evaluation of theoretical hypotheses, causal and statistical models, and uses of scientific knowledge to make personal and public decisions. It was a difficult class, but I truly learned something new and interesting each class session. I am currently enrolled in a course called Problem Solving and Technology, which by the end of the term could become my favorite course. We are currently building a small, computer programmed robot which is an entertaining project unlike any I have done before.”
What do you hope to do with your degree in construction engineering management?
“CEM is kind of a combination between civil engineering and business management. Each week, it seems I learn something new that a person could do with a degree in CEM. Upon graduating with a degree in CEM and minors in business and communication, I hope to build houses, and remodel houses for resale or renting. However, this is plan is subject to change with each new opportunity I learn about.”
What do you do in your free time?
“In my free time, I enjoy camping, fishing, and playing guitar.”
What's one thing a lot of people don't know about you?
“This past summer, while playing in Alaska, my dad and I had an unforgettable fishing trip on the Kenai River where we caught two king salmon totaling almost 100 pounds. Also, for the past few summers, and this upcoming summer, my family has attended Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Gorge (Amphitheater) in George, Washington.”
If you could give one piece of advice to incoming freshmen what would it be?
“From the day you walk in the door, work as hard as you can, and learn what it means to become a good teammate.”