Tony Miller is a statistician, a historian and a jokester. He’s an information-driven writer with a mind full of sarcasm and statistics. This savvy, sedulous, side-splitting soul, sometimes seen falling off tangent mountain, came to the realization at the age of 4 that his motor skills and physical limitations due to his cerebral palsy would prevent him from becoming a professional athlete. He knew, however, that people got paid to speak about baseball and set his mind to stay involved with sports through this avenue. Two decades later, he continues to focus on connecting with athletes and telling their story.
Miller is the sports information director (SID) at Goshen College. His office, with finished McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Mountain Dew and Gatorade containers, papers, pens, cords, and a blow horn cluttering his desk, does not appear orderly. While spatial organization might not be a strength of his, he is a dedicatedly organized person. For instance, a five-week calendar hangs on the wall written with black Expo marker, laying out all the sporting events for GC in that span. Most of his work is complete in the office setting, which includes writing prize-winning game notes at the 2017 NAIA-SIDA Publications & Media Contest, maintaining the GC athletic website, keeping stats for the teams and running many of their Twitter pages, periodically dropping his phone into his salad while live-tweeting. His job even requires him to write the record books, which, to a certain degree, requires historical research. Luckily, he has eight file cabinets full of season summaries, box scores and more statistics. “There’s a degree of historian that goes into what I’m doing,” Miller said.
Despite never setting foot on the playing surface during competition, he received nine varsity letters during his senior year at Bethany Christian High School.He volunteered to operate the scoreboard at any opportunity there was available, and now at GC, it’s his job.
Much like his time at Bethany, he is either keeping stats, running the scoreboard, or both at the GC sporting events, something he has been familiar with since fifth grade. Rarely will he ever miss a home game.
As a high school senior in January 2014, he interned with Josh Gleason, Goshen’s former SID and the man that ultimately hired him. One night, the two were behind the scorer’s table for the men’s basketball game keeping stats. Miller had one of the best seats in the house for what turned out to be one of the most memorable moments in Goshen College basketball history. After stealing an inbounds pass from under the opponent’s basket, Erik McCollum, 2010 grad, drove to the hoop, soared over an opposing player and slammed the ball through the basket. The next morning, the famous dunk was shown on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays. This moment acted as a reminder for Miller of why he loves sports so much.
Video games played a large role in his childhood, but only one kind. “Anything that was sports related and nothing that wasn’t sports related,” he said.
His favorite was the original Backyard Baseball, an animated baseball game where neighborhood kids would gather and play against each other in backyards, parks and beaches. He always selected the smallest but best player in the game first. Pablo Sanchez, the player they called “The Secret Weapon,” was by far the best hitter and fastest player in the game, and if he did not get selected first, “you need to have your backyard sports ranking privileges revoked,” he said.
Later, he begins to walk through his demonstration of how he converted the animated Backyard Baseball scoreboard into the score updates for the GC athletics social media platforms. With Adobe Photoshop open on the right screen, he is able to cut the hour hand and fixate it to show 7:00 instead of 3:00 “so that it is not forming the shape of a giant ‘L.’” He thrives on attention to these small details.
One day at work for him is never the same as the next and depends on the time of year. For example, in the days leading up to the first home baseball game, he needed to make sure of a few things. First was making sure the camera on the press box operated properly so fans could connect to the live stream through goleafs.net. Second was checking if the public address announcer’s microphone worked. Third was ensuring that the new scoreboard functioned properly. On other days, say during the basketball season, he could be in his office creating the 18 pages of game notes for the radio broadcasters, some of which didn’t get sent to them until four in the morning.
Andrew Snyder, ‘17, spent four years at Goshen College as a student, soccer player and play-by-play broadcaster before stepping into a marketing role in the GC Athletics Department. Miller and Snyder were close during their time as students together, but perhaps closer on a literal level when their offices were just steps away from each other.
“Part of working with him that was very fun is the times that he would mess up and I would catch him,” Snyder said. “They don’t happen very often but I’m sure he’ll say they happen way more than I would say that.” However, Miller would learn from those moments and remind himself not to make those same mistakes in the future.
“It’s all in good fun,” Snyder said.
As a sports fan, Miller is consumed by numbers, able to spit out facts ranging anywhere from GC athletic information to Paul Simon’s birthday. He was able to see his favorite sports team, the Chicago Cubs, win the World Series in 2016, which many fans before him missed out on. In all, his passion and drive for more information allows him to make meaningful connections with the people around him. He continues to tell athletes stories.