BY STEVE KRAH
Todd Miller’s baseball coaching path has taken him to the eastern part of the Volunteer State.
A graduate of Franklin (Ind.) Community High School in 2002 and Hanover (Ind.) College in 2006, Miller is in his first season as an assistant at Tusculum University, an NCAA Division II school in Greeneville, Tenn.
Recruiting coordinator and assistant coach is charge of hitting, base runners and infielders are duties for Miller, who was hired in the summer of 2018.
Tusculum (24-14 through April 4) is part of the South Atlantic Conference (with Anderson of South Carolina, Carson-Newman, Catawba, Coker, Lenoir-Rhyne, Lincoln Memorial, Mars Hill, Newberry, Queens of Charlotte and Wingate).
“We have, arguably, the best facilities in Division II baseball,” says Miller. Tusculum has indoor covered batting cages. A clubhouse, weight room, video lab and coaches offices are all underneath the stadium. A nearby building is used for defensive work.
Anderson played for Gantt at Catawba and joined Miller in turning the Crusaders’ fortunes around.
“We had a lot of success there,” says Miller.
After going 25-25 in 2015 (Miller’s first season), Abbey was 40-14 with a No. 2 national ranking (best in program history) in 2018 (Miller’s last).
“(Gantt) is one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around — bar none,” says Miller. “He’s got a fantastic program. He does a great job of developing players. He’s truly winner.”
Miller was a part of winning teams for the Indians. During his time there, Catawba won three conference titles and qualified for regional play three times. The program’s first regional crown and D-II College World Series berth in Cary, N.C., came in 2012.
He was an assistant at his alma mater, Hanover, and helped head coach Shayne Stock in 2009 and 2010. Those were also the junior and senior seasons for brother Adam Miller (Hanover Class of 2010). Their sister, Jessica (Class of 2012), was also a student there at the time.
In March 2007, Miller was involved in a tragic highway accident in Atlanta. Bluffton was on its way to Florida on its southern trip when a crash took the lives of seven people, including five players.
“I was thrown from the bus,” says Miller. “I went through the front windshield.
“I had four broken bones in my back, a skull fracture and a broken jaw.”
Head coach Grandey was hurt even worse and stayed weeks in a hospital before going back to Ohio.
At 22, Miller became temporary head coach.
“I was talking to guys about losing their best friend and roommate,” says Miller. “We had a team meeting after all the funerals. We said we can play this year if you’d like or not. Nobody is going to judge you either way.
“The team decided it wanted to play and do its best. We played the rest of that season with heavy hearts.”
The first game after the fatal accident was a loss, but the Beavers scored five runs — one for each lost player.
“That was symbolic,” says Miller, who recalls that the outreach locally and nationally was tremendous.
After a month after the accident, Tiffin University (located about 45 minutes from Bluffton) held a Purple Day (in honors of Bluffton’s school colors) and raised $13,000.
He was still dealing with physical and mental issues when Miller met one of the Tiffin students that were a part of the effort. A year later, they went on a date and are now married with three children.
Todd and Leigh Miller have Madeline (6), Brooks (3) and Boone (almost 10 months).
“It shows you that even through that tragedy, there can be a silver lining,” says Miller.
Bluffton is where Miller received his masters degree in business administration and formed a bond with Grandey.
“He’s been a teacher, mentor and friend to me through the years,” says Miller.
“I enjoyed Coach Naylor very much,” says Miller. “He was very organized and demanded excellence everyday — not only in the game but it practice.
“He was a winner. He was always able to get the best out of you. He was hard on you. But you had to read through the message a little bit. It was what he said not how he said it.”
Miller also played football at Hanover. He was a three-sport athlete in high school, spending his winters with basketball.
At Franklin Community, Miller’s baseball coaches were Jeff Mercer Sr. and Mark Pieper.
Jeff Mercer Sr. is the father of Indiana University head coach Jeff Mercer Jr., a Franklin Community graduate and two years younger than Todd Miller. The Miller and Mercer families are long-time friends.
“The ABCA is a must-attend for anybody serious about baseball,” says Miller. “I pick up something new every year.
“It’s relevant for all stages of coaching — youth, high school, college and professional.”
Miller also coached three summers with the Indiana Bulls travel baseball organization, leading a 14U squad for two years and a 15U team for one. Brother Adam assisted for all three seasons. He also got help from Ben Kleber, who is now head coach at Trinity Christian High School in Seymour, Ind.
One of the players on those Bulls team was Drew Ellis, who went on to play at Jeffersonville High School and the University of Louisville and is now in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization (he begins 2019 at Double-A Jackson, Tenn.).
Todd Miller (left), a graduate Franklin (Ind.) Community High School and Hanover (Ind.) College, is in his first season as an assistant baseball coach at Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn. (Tusculum University Photo)
Todd Miller is an assistant baseball coach at Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tenn. His duties include recruiting coordinator and he is in charge of hitters, base runners and infielders. (Tusculum University Photo)