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The Suburbanite
  • The Monday After: Tim Miller Field will honor longtime coach

  • The words atop the scoreboard at Canton South High School’s baseball field say “Play Ball.” So, after the field is renamed next weekend during an alumni weekend, and the name of longtime coach Tim Miller appears in that space on a new scoreboard, it will seem appropriate.

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  • The words atop the scoreboard at Canton South High School’s baseball field say “Play Ball.” So, after the field is renamed next weekend during an alumni weekend, and the name of longtime coach Tim Miller appears in that space on a new scoreboard, it will seem appropriate.
    Miller helped build the field. He wanted the members of his teams to have a better place to play ball.
    “We were playing at a field at Amos McDannel (Elementary School) and it was OK, but it had a lot of rocks,” recalled Miller, who noted that it was the team of 1969 that sought to improve their playing field. “Four or five of them came to me and said, ‘Let’s build a ball field.’ And so we did.”
    Members of that team and many of the other teams Miller coached from 1965 to 1993 — along with players from teams since his retirement — will return for Tim Miller Baseball Field Dedication Weekend.
    The three-day event begins Friday night with batting practice. It continues Saturday with a Canton South Alumni Association golf outing to help raise funds for the new scoreboard. And the weekend will conclude Sunday with the dedication of the field and two alumni games.
    “We hold the games every five years, and it was Coach Miller who started the tradition,” said Rocky Bourquin, president of the Canton South Alumni Association and retired Canton South High School athletic director. “We’ve got a lot of people coming in from all over, so it should be a special weekend. Five years ago, we had 80 and we’re hoping to have at least that many this year.”
    Bourquin, who played for and coached with Miller and followed his mentor as head coach of the Wildcats, said naming the field after Miller was a “no-brainer.”
    “We’ve only had four baseball coaches at Canton South — Tim Miller, myself, Phil Forshey, and now Trent McIlvain,” said Bourquin. “Those who came after him, we all knew what Canton South baseball was supposed to be like because of Coach Miller.”
    WORTHY HONOR
    Miller’s younger brother, former NFL player Mark Miller, also played baseball for his elder sibling. He and other family members believe it’s fitting that the Tim Miller Field joins the Red Ash basketball gym and the Clyde Brechbuhler football stadium as South’s named athletic facilities.
    “He’s very humble and he never expected this, but he coached for 29 seasons and had a record or 404 wins and 244 losses,” noted Mark Miller, who also noted that his brother’s teams won four regional championships, eight Federal League titles, and one NBC title. “He IS South baseball.”
    Coach Miller was inducted into both the Stark County and the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association halls of fame.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We would win games because he knew how to win,” said the younger Miller. “But, more than anything, he had a passion for baseball. He still does. The players saw that and responded to it. The passion rubbed off.”
    Coach Miller would be out there before games working on the field and again after games concluded, his brother said.
    “He will tell you he had a lot of help building the field, but he was the driving force behind getting the field built. For it to be named Tim Miller Field is the correct way for this to end.”
    SENSE OF COMMUNITY
    Indeed, Tim Miller’s gratefulness for the honor of having a field named after him grows to include appreciation for a community that rallied around his team’s efforts to create the field more than 40 years ago.
    “I think it’s a neat thing, but to me personally it’s very humbling become I know that a lot of people helped with it,” said the coach, who recalled players, coaches, school officials, athletics boosters, parents, and other community members all contributing time or donating necessary items to construct the field.
    “We chose a site where the old football stadium had been, so there already was good grass, threw down a home plate and drew it off from there,” he remembered. “I think that home plate was the only thing that came out of the school district’s budget. People donated things. Every time we needed something, it was there.
    “It took seven days and it was done and we started our season on that field. The biggest concern I had was my kids had blisters on their hands and it wasn’t from hitting baseballs.”
    Players on that 1969 team “took ownership” of the field Coach Miller said. They maintained it, prepared it for games, even often mowed the grass.
    “It was their field,” explained Miller, who noted that subsequent teams performed the same duty.
    It strengthened the players and bonded them, Miller said. Their hard work on the field translated into hard practice and play.
    “I don’t think any players worked harder and practiced harder than those at Canton South.”
    That work ethic has continued, said Bourquin. “All the coaches since Tim have been able to keep the tradition going,” said Bourquin. “It’s been easy since the kids at Canton South know that baseball is important to the community.”