By Gary R. Rasberry
It's amazing what taking in a player 11 years ago can lead to.
For Wayne and Margaret Miller, it eventually earned them a place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League Hall of Fame.
The couple from Coldwater will be honored on Sunday at the GLSCL All-Star Game in Athens for their years of service to the team. Former Commissioner and Ohio Wesleyan baseball coach Roger Ingels and former GLSCL pitcher and current San Diego Padre Paul Quan-trill will also be inducted over the weekend.
When he first got involved, Miller never thought it would lead to running the team as president and general manager.
"No, it didn't," Miller said with a laugh after Monday's game with Columbus. "The second summer (1995), I was on the board. The third summer (1996) the team was pretty well going to fold. I said I would give it a shot and see what I could do. It's been a struggle, but we've been able to maintain." Miller's experience in education administration, most notably as Superintendent at Coldwater for years, helped out in putting together the program from the off-the-field standpoint.
"I think the organizational aspect is key. You have to have it organized," said Miller. "It's not going to survive without any organization."
Margaret came on as secretary and treasurer of the team. Both attend all home games and road trips, with Margaret usually helping at the concession stand -- although recent eye surgery has kept her at home.
"When you're 72 years old, you'd better take care of your eyes," chuckled Wayne.
Since Miller took over the president and general manager's roles, the Mariners have won two regular season titles and the 1997 playoff championship while adding two runner-up honors.
"I think there's a lot of other stuff that people don't recognize," said Miller of the duties of running the business end of the team. Look at the crowd we had tonight and last Friday. We're looking at 1,000 people over two nights. They're (fans) responding. We have to have that support. That's what makes the job a heckuva lot more fun than when you have just 150 people out here."
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Miller praised the people who also help out the Mariners, ranging from members of the board to sponsors of Nights at the Park, which Celina Group hosted Monday's game. Without them, running the team would be impossible.
"We have had a lot of people out here," said Miller. "(Assistant general manager) Dick Van Horn and some of the other board members have worked. It's just not Margaret and I, it's a lot of people working and giving a lot of support. Bill Montgomery (from Celina Group) and people like want to see it go. They're always there when you need a little help. They'll help you out."
The Great Lakes League will hold their annual All-Star Game on Sunday. This year, the game moves from Delaware to Athens as Southern Ohio hosts the game.
Teams will again be split into Red and Blue teams. Unlike the last several years, league teams will send players to just one team, rather than split them up.
Grand Lake will send seven players to play for the Blue team this season. Infielders Dusty Hammond, Bryant Witt and Ben Gaal will join catcher Josh Eachues and outfielder Ben Humphrey to play for the Blues. Pitchers Cory Luebke and Keegan Laycock will get a chance to pitch for the Blue team. Mariners skipper Mike Stafford will co-manage the Blues with Columbus coach Brian Mannino. Southern Ohio coach Andrew See and Indianapolis coach Greg Lympberopoulos will act as assistant coaches.
None of the local players playing for the other GLSCL teams made the Red or Blue teams. Delaware's Bruce Heine and Lima's Rob Livchak will co-manage the Reds with Lake Erie's Dave Sontag and Stark County's Joe Gilhousen coaching.
The game begins at 5:30 p.m. at Bob Wren Stadium on the campus of Ohio University.