12/22/2006 9:35 AM ET
Miller tries to stem domestic violence
By George Castle / Special to MLBPLAYERS.com
You never have any trouble talking to Damian Miller in the Milwaukee Brewers' clubhouse. He's Midwest-earnest, hailing from LaCrosse, Wis., which was referred to as "God's Country" in the Old Style beer commercials that used to be on baseball broadcasts in that neck of the woods.
Damian Miller is the eighth player born in Wisconsin to play for the Brewers. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
But you also don't linger and chit-chat for extended periods. Miller is one of the best handlers of pitchers around. He takes pride in the intricacies of catching. At 36, he's the team elder, a coach in the locker room, as the youngish Brewers try to climb to consistent contender's status.
The eighth player born in Wisconsin to play for the Brewers, Miller also is giving back to his home state. He had helped local charities in La Crosse, located on the Mississippi River bordering Minnesota. But he and his wife Jeanne wanted to expand their reach.
So they taped a Public Service Announcement speaking out against domestic violence.
"We did something we both wanted to get involved with," Miller said. "We were involved with the Boys and Girls Club of Wisconsin. We do something for 5,000 kids per summer in Wisconsin. With the Brewers, we got involved."
The Millers, who have two children, Josephine and Jesse, do not personally know anyone who has been a victim of domestic violence. But it didn't matter. The issue hit a hot button with them.
"We felt pretty strongly about it," Miller said. "We wanted to bring awareness to it. We thought it was the right thing to do. It's a concern throughout the country.
"The message was there's a local affiliation for people to get involved in for themselves or those they know."
The Millers don't necessarily hold themselves out as role models for relationships. But they do have some good numbers going. In September, they'll have been married 12 years.
"We have a strong marriage," Miller said. "Jeanne's been with me my entire career, through the Minor Leagues, thick and thin."
Thus Jeanne Miller has gotten the grand tour. Triple-A ball in Salt Lake City. A big-league debut with the Twins in 1997. A stop in Triple-A Tucson. Then a nice stay with the Diamondbacks. Miller was starting catcher on Arizona's 2001 World Series championship team. The next year, he made the National League All-Star team.
Miller will never forget 2003 when he was the starting catcher on the Cubs team that came within five outs of the World Series.
The next year, Miller moved on to Oakland, but in 2005, he had a chance to come almost all the way home to Milwaukee, on the other side of Wisconsin from La Crosse.
Home would be where the heart is. Count on the Millers to do more when they can.
"It's tough due to time restraints," he said. "But we try to do our part. If they want us to do something, we'll be more than happy to get involved in it. We feel strongly about it, because (domestic violence is) fairly prevalent throughout the country. It doesn't get the attention it should."
George Castle is a writer for Redline Editorial, Inc.