2004-01-06 23:08:51 UTC
where he excelled in football and baseball, in 1971. His skills as an
infielder were impressive enough for the Cincinnati Reds to make him their
#1 draft pick that same year. He chose not to sign, and enrolled at LSU
where he continued to impress professional scouts in two sports.
Miley played football (QB) and baseball (SS) at LSU. He skipped football
season in 1971 to concentrate on baseball under Coach Jim Smith, but
returned kicks and played defense for the Tigers in '72, his sophomore year.
Bert Jones (AKA The Ruston Rifle) was LSU's starting QB that year. In
1973, Miley passed for 978 yards as LSU's starting QB, leading the Tigers to
a 9-3 record. He opted to skip his senior year, and his last football game
as a Tiger was New Years' Day 1974, when LSU lost to Penn State 16-9 in the
Orange Bowl. In that game he completed 5 of 8 passes for 36 yards. Legendary
Head Coach Charles McClendon nicknamed him "Miracle Mike" because of his
ability to motivate other players who would rally around him. In Spring
Practice, an annual Mike Miley Leadership Award is now given to an offensive
and a defensive player.
In 3 baseball seasons at LSU (1972-74), Miley, a switch-hitter with great
defensive abilities, played in 105 games and hit .280. Those numbers seem
small for College Baseball, but schedules were shorter then and bats were
made of wood. He was named to the All-SEC squads
in 1972 and '74. As a junior in 1974, he was named First Team All-American
by The Sporting News, and was the first round draft pick of the California
Angels in June. It's hard to believe now, but LSU Baseball was hardly on the
map during the early 1970s. Our program didn't get much attention before the
hiring of Coach Skip Bertman in 1984. Since then, the Tigers have been to 12
College World Series, and won 5 National Championships between 1991-2000.
But Miley was the first LSU baseball player ever drafted in the first round.
Mike Miley played Minor League baseball for El Paso and Salt Lake City
before his Major League debut on July 6, 1975. His greatest moment as a pro
came on August 19 of that year when he hit a 15th inning home run to lift
the Angels over
the Brewers 5-4. Managed by Dick Williams, the Angels finished last in the
AL West with a record of 72-89. Nolan Ryan and Frank Tanana were among
Miley spent most of 1976 in the minors at Salt Lake City, playing in only 14
games for the Angels, but was expected to be their starting shortstop in
'77. His professional stats are available on the Internet.
Miley died in a car crash here in Baton Rouge on January 6, 1977 when his
sports car failed to make a turn on Highland Road. He was
almost 24. Airline Park Playground in Metairie, where Mike played in many a
ball game during his early years, was renamed Mike Miley
Playground some years ago. Recently, at East Jefferson High School, Coach
Henry Rando spoke of a hot new QB prospect. Rando told a reporter, "He might
even be as good as Mike Miley".
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune obituaries, Miley's father
passed away on January 3, 2003 at the age of 75. He was laid to rest on
January 6th, exactly 26 years after the death of his son Mike. Corey
Artieta, who was pitching in the Minor Leagues, is the son of one of Mike
Miley's sisters (Mike's would-be nephew). Artieta was drafted by the
Milwaukee Brewers in the 31st round out of Northeast Louisiana University
(now U of L - Monroe) in 1999.
This author is also a native of suburban New Orleans, and graduate of East
Jefferson HS and LSU. A while back, I did a Google
search for Mike Miley, and was surprised to see some degree of interest in
newsgroups. Fans of EJ, LSU, and the Angels