Hiring man said, “Son if it was up to me”

Meeting Millar in 2003. I was very excited to meet him  which explains why I look so nervous in this photo.

Meeting Millar in 2003. I was very excited to meet him which explains why I look so nervous in this photo.

Kevin Millar has held a special place in my heart for a long time. Before his time in Boston began in 2003, I had watched him on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” talking about how he was treated for being a ‘scrub’ in 1994 and how difficult it was to decide to play during the strike.  Immediately, I was drawn to him and I was excited to see him on the Red Sox.  I knew he was no All Star but I’ve always had a penchant for bench players so I had no higher hopes for him than he be successful on his own level and help the team as much as he could.

At the time, I was a very active contributor to the Red Sox Fan Forum message board and the collective interest in Millar (and Todd Walker and other members of the team) turned into a website that I created (numberfifteen.com – now defunct).  The site became very popular and I ended up in contact with various people who knew Kevin (including his mom and a former coach).  Kevin himself even left comments a few times.  He was very gracious and seemed to appreciate the love of the fans.  So he really won my fandom.

He brought people together as well.  There are people I consider my friends still today (waves to Dori and Emmie and Cris) whom I met through the message board at NumberFifteen.com.  The photo above was taken by my friend Pam on the first day we met each other.  (We became friendly on the Sox forum and decided to go together one Saturday and see Kevin Millar even though we never had met in person.  That led to many other travels for us including a few trips to the Baseball Hall of Fame!)   His good-nature was seemingly contagious.  With the suggestion from Mike Timlin, in 2003 he made a Nation peopled by many northeasterners toss on cowboy hats and yell “Cowboy Up!” to each other as a rally cry.  In 2004, he was the one telling everyone “Don’t let us win tonight” before game 4 of the ALCS.  In both those years he was the connector between the fans and the players.  He kept us full of hope and he encouraged his teammates to never give up.

And then there’s that little thing about how he didn’t exactly suck while he was here too – especially in 2003 and 2004.  He was a huge part of the current success of this team (without “the walk” there would never have been “the steal”) and he deserves to be remembered for more than just being the class clown.

I write all of this after finding out today that the Cubs have cut Millar from the team.

“If this is the end, you shake hands,” Millar said. “The one thing in my career, I’ve never been released and I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve had as much fun as I could and played as hard as I could with limited ability. Do I feel this is the end? I’d say no.”

I don’t think Millar would ever believe it was “the end” but I worry that this is exactly that.  A league without Kevin Millar in it is a league that is a little less special and I’m sad if Millar has come to the end of his MLB career.

Many Red Sox fans could get behind him joining NESN…or the MLB Network.  That would fill the Millar-less MLB void!

I think now is a good time to share my favorite Millar story.  It isn’t about him being goofy.  Heck it isn’t even about anything he did on the field.  I saw him at a publicity thing in 2005 at Filene’s.  I forget what he was selling but I remember that he did a Q&A for us and when he was asked about the fans he said that one of his favorite things about the fans was that the women Red Sox fans were so knowledgeable about baseball.  He admitted that he probably should have known it but his experience was limited to the Marlins fans and he was surprised that whenever he was stopped on the street by a woman fan it was usually to give him advice on how he should adjust his stance or suggestions on how to position himself at first.  He said he was genuinely impressed by that and it made him appreciate women fans and THEIR appreciation for the game even more.

Millar is more than just a joker and for many reasons, not just the fact that he’s “one of the 25”, I’ll miss him terribly if he doesn’t end up playing for another team.

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