Wednesday, June 7
Sweet homer, Alabama: Miller sets HR mark

By Stacy Paetz
ESPN's Scholastic Sports America

No single act in sports represents power more than a home run in baseball. And with his home-run power, catcher Wade Miller of G.W. Long High School has put Skipperville, Ala., on the map.

 Wade Miller
Miller's home-run swing has set a national record.
In the first inning of the semifinal showdown between the Skippervillle Rebels and Houston Academy, Miller blasted a two-run home run some 400 feet into center field, breaking the national home run record of 29 in a season that had been held by Chris Aquila of Reno, Nev. (1997) and Shon Walker of Harrison County, Ky. (1992). Miller also tied the state record for most homers in a career with 54.

"I wasn't really thinking about it at the time," says Miller. "I was just looking for something I could drive. When it left the bat I was thinking, 'Man,' I mean so much excitement was building, the crowd went crazy."

History was made that day as Miller was surrounded by his community and teammates. Even the opposing team awarded his efforts. But Miller's moment was truly savored by his entire family, his younger brother Clay (the starting center fielder), his older brother Drew and his coach and father, Earl. "I think I was the most nervous of everybody," says Drew. "When he hit it, there wasn't any doubt it was out. It was fun watching him round bases and the fans really got into it."

When asked how he felt about his son's record-breaking home run, Earl Miller remarked, "He did it so early in the ballgame. As a coach I had to keep my emotions inside and say we have more ball to play and win a game; at the same time I was so proud of him."

"The first baseman hugged me and I went around the bases; Dad was at third," says Wade. "I could tell by the look on his face he was proud of me and that probably meant more to me than anything." .

Miller has been compared to New York Mets great Mike Piazza. His batting average is .550 and he's hitting a home run every 4.06 times at bat. So it's no surprise that Miller is compared to the best home run hitting catchers in the majors. "I see Ivan Rodriguez and Mike Piazza, they're great catchers and great hitters," he says. "But I just try to be myself and not to copy anyone else -- just be Wade Miller, that's it!"

Miller doesn't allow his recent fame to go to his head. He puts his team in front of his own triumphs. "If I could get a fourth state championship and national record, that would be extra sweet," he says. "The reason we play this game is to be state champions. Going into the season I wasn't thinking about the national record, but now that I have it, just getting to a state championship would be unreal. To get them both would be special!"

The Skipperville Rebels went on to the final game and walked away with yet another state championship title. Miller plans to attend Troy University in Troy, Ala., where he will play alongside his brother Drew.

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