BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. Ė The extended family of the Newberry Athletic Department was deeply saddened late Tuesday, after learning of passing of former Indian baseball head coach and director of athletics Clyde Miller. Miller, who most recently served as the head baseball coach of former South Atlantic Conference-member institution Gardner-Webb University, was 64 years old.
"Miller was a tremendous role model," said Newberry head coach Tim Medlin, who played for Miller from 1981-82. "He didnít just influence his players on the field, but dozens of coaches, including me."
Miller began at Newberry College in the spring of 1981 after a very successful coaching stint at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia, where he won 379 games. Miller had a combined record of 163-136-2 while head coach of the Indians, leading Newberry to two NAIA regional appearances.
However, when talking to the men that knew him best, Millerís accomplishments on the field take a backseat to kind of man he was off the diamond.
"Whenever I think of baseball, I think of Clyde Miller," ponders Jimmie Coggins, radio voice of the Indians for over 20 years. "I donít know of anyone who loved the game of baseball more than him and his family.
"I think he loved the game more than life itself."
After his time at Newberry College, Miller went on to have an extremely successful career at Gardner-Webb, notching a school-record 326 victories in 16 years as head coach. Miller helped the Bulldogs to a school-record 44 victories in 2000, leading GWU to an NCAA Southeast Regional title and a trip to the Division II World Series.
Millerís winning didnít start as a coach, but rather as a player. As a starting pitcher at Georgia Southern University, Miller led the Eagles to the 1962 NAIA College World Series title, and was inducted into the Georgia Southern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.
For over 20 years, the Newberry baseball program has had a connection to Coach Miller, since after his resignation in the summer of 1988, Medlin took over the reins of the program. Medlin knows that while the personnel may have changed that summer, his influence over coach Medlin has guaranteed a "Miller flavor" passed on to the hundreds of young men that have passed through the Newberry College baseball program.
"Miller instilled in me a work ethic and toughness that I have tried to teach every kid I have ever coached," continues Medlin. "I lost my father at the age of 16, and I count him as one of the major influences in my life."
Of course, when one speaks of a man whose career in collegiate baseball spans four decades, everyone has a story. Coggins recalled an incident at Kirkland Field in the spring of 1983.
"Miller hated calling games, almost to the point that he would attempt to get a game in under any conditions," recalls Coggins. "There was a storm system that was dumping a pretty heavy winter-mix all over central South Carolina.
"Rather than call the game, Miller convinced everyone to play through it. The field conditions were so bad, that when Miller sent a man around third base, the player slipped and slid ten feet down the third base line."
There will be a memorial service for Miller at the Dover Chapel, located on the campus of Gardner-Webb, on Thursday, March 24th at 7 p.m. The funeral will take place on Saturday, March 26th at the Smyrna Methodist Church in Washington, Ga. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, to please make donations to the Boiling Springs United Methodist Church, or the Anderson College baseball program, where Millerís son Joe is head coach.
Joe Miller, whom Medlin recruited to play for him while he was an head assistant for the Trojans, also attended Newberry College from 1988-89, following Medlin from Anderson after he was named head coach of the Indians when the senior Miller left.
"To this day," remembers Medlin, "the biggest professional compliment I have ever received was that Coach Miller allowed his son to play for me."