Fantastic Legacy Continues With First Annual Keith Miller Memorial High School Baseball All-Star Game

Above photo: Members of the Miller family (Front L-R) Brock and Ellie. (Back L-R) Ruby, Deanna, Brian and Chad.

The First Annual Keith Miller Memorial High School All-Star Baseball Game, honoring the long time baseball coach and sports referee from Knox, was played on Friday, June 18th, at Showers Field in DuBois.

Members of the Miller family attending were Keith’s wife Ruby, their sons Chad and Brian, Brian’s wife Deanna and their children Brock and Ellie. Brock and Ellie threw the ceremonial first pitch, with Chad and Brian catching.

(Photo by Diane Lutz) Brock and Ellie Miller throwing ceremonial “First Pitches” under the watchful eye of their mother Deanna

The game was part of a larger event coordinated by Chad Miller, which also included a 12U All-Star Baseball Tournament Friday through Sunday, June18th-20th, and a professional wrestling card on Saturday night, both at Heindl Field.

The nine-inning game featured players from District 9 and parts of District Ten.

The Eagles, coached by Penn State-DuBois head coach Tom Calliari, emerged victorious with an 11-8 victory over the Bucks, coached by Micheal Nesbit an assistant coach at PSU-DuBois.

The Eagles scored five runs in the bottom of the first and another in the second to take a 6-0 lead. The Bucks answered with one in the third and four more in the fourth, closing the gap to one run 6-5. With two more runs in the fifth and three more in the eighth, the Eagles pushed their lead to 11-5. The Bucks closed out the scoring with three runs in the top of the ninth to set the final.

Clarion Area’s Cole Slaugenhoup was a member of the Bucks, seeing considerable playing time behind the plate. Others from the area on the Bucks included: Keystone’s Nate Gutonski and Logan Snell; Forest Area’s Matt Schmader; Brockway’s Ben Glasl, who drove in a run, with a nice bunt single in the ninth inning, and Brookville’s Chase Palmer.

Clarion-Limestone’s Hayden Callen sliding in, with Clarion’s Cole Slaugenhoup trying for the tag

Area players on the Eagles’ roster included: Redbank Valley’s Koby Bonanno; Clarion-Limestone’s Hayden Callen, who saw two innings on the mound, without giving up a hit and not allowing a run, while also scoring a run himself; Keystone’s Keenan Heeter and Tye Elder; A-C Valley’s Brock Weigle; and Brookville’s Jace Miner.

The Eagles’ Cole Sebastian from Otto-Eldred, was named MVP.

The game represented some of the principles that Keith Miller exhibited throughout his life of service, which included being a referee and coach for forty-plus years and owning and operating Millers’ Sporting Goods, along with his wife Ruby. Keith was a member of the Providence United Methodist Church and attended the Knox United Methodist Church where he was a trustee and sang in the choir. Keith Miller was a Shriner and a Zem Zem, a Cub Scout Master, 4H Leader, a member of the Clarion County Fair Board and equipment manager for the Knox Little League, member of the Clarion County Fair Board and served as the Beef Chairman for the fair.

(Miller family photo) Keith Miller

Keith coached baseball at just about every level, T-ball, Little League, American Legion… He started and coached the Keystone High School Baseball Team and was the founder of the Keystone Diamond Club.

Keith conducted hitting seminars and also worked with teams and players at the pitching machine at Millers’ Sporting Goods.

Chad Miller said, “It’s an honor to have the media out here covering this event. I’m very excited to be partnering with the City of DuBois, the United Way and the DuBois Little League to help them to raise funds for future baseball players, down the road. This is one of those things that (Dad) and I always talked about, doing an East-West All-Star Game again, like they used to have for American Legion. But this is kind of a neat start, with District Nine and District Ten. This is an awesome opportunity.

“When I was coming up through District Nine, stuff like this just didn’t exist. Talking with Coach Calliari and Coach Nesbit, this was something that they really helped me put things together. We got great sponsors, like Prime Fitness Equipment that was amazing in coming out to support us; and local businesses such as Dr. (Randy) Boggess. He has been an amazing sponsor for us too.”

Keith’s wife Ruby said, “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for all the kids here. They’re being exposed to things they wouldn’t ordinarily get exposed to. I think that Keith would be flabbergasted. And I feel sure that he’s watching from heaven right now and very, very happy.”

Just part of the crowd at the First Annual Keith Miller All-Star Baseball Game

Keith conducted hitting seminars and also worked with teams and players at the pitching machine at Millers’ Sporting Goods. It didn’t matter if you were a team that competed with his or not, Keith was just happy to pass along his expertise and love of the game.

I’m sure many former players and coaches remember Keith and Chad taking major time passing on the finer points of hitting at the batting cage, with Keith many times putting the machine on auto feed and taking a big hit on any profit he might have made. Chad said, “There were times when on purpose, he’d go, ‘Hey, put the change drawer in. I’d go and put the change drawer in the batting cage and the next thing I’d know, he’d go ‘pull it out.’ I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ He’d say, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just don’t tell your mom.’ The thing was that he just wanted kids to have the opportunity to succeed through baseball and stay off the street, which is very important. He just wanted people to have the opportunity to be successful in life.”

(Miller family photo) Keith enjoying another one of his passions.

Diane Lutz, who graduated from Keystone several years before Chad Miller, and her husband Todd were in attendance at the game. Diane said that “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree,” with Chad.

She shared, “The Miller Family has made a lasting impact on the community showing them how important physical activity and team work is for people of all ages. Chad is working with L (the Lutz’s son Logan) in many baseball aspects, in addition to being a well-rounded healthy teenager. He gives him goals to work on and push towards. He has also provided several opportunities for him to learn from some of the people who have inspired Chad along the way. We are grateful first and foremost his friendship and also his commitment to helping others pursue their passion.”

Keith’s legacy of caring shines Big Time through this event. Chad, said, “That was one of the things that was great about dad. He didn’t care who you were; he just wanted you to be successful as a baseball player. And that is really what this event is about, to give these kids another look and give them one last run as a high school baseball player, whether it is the last game of their career or whether it’s the last game of their high school career and they are moving on to college. And that is what is so fun about this event, we have twenty-three high schools represented and we have eleven kids that are playing this game today, that are going on to college baseball.” 

Chad has quite a re`sume` in the sport as a player and coach. He verbally committed as a catcher, to North Carolina State as a ninth grader. But the NC State coach left mid season for the University of South Carolina. Chad then signed with and played for Cleveland State and later transferred to Slippery Rock, finishing his playing career there. After his playing career was done he coached at Penn State-Beaver and then Marshall University.

He is excited to see players from his high school alma mater moving on. “It is neat for me to see because I was actually the first player from Keystone to play college baseball. So, now to see, I think there are three players on Keystone’s team this year that are going on to play.”

And Speaking for the entire Miller family, Chad shared this on Facebook, “What an incredible weekend! It was a very emotional time for my family because everything that we tried to accomplish was what my dad would have wanted. I cannot say how much I appreciate everyone for their incredible support and efforts. Literally the only way to even come close to expressing my feelings is to simply say Thank you!”

And thank you to the Miller family for carrying on Keith’s legacy of caring for the kids. May it continue for many years to come. And can anyone who knew Keith ever forget passion for the game, his willingness to selflessly pass it on and that big, friendly, infectious Cheshire Cat smile of his?!!!!