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Yankee profile: Dave Miley

May 21, 2007
Life has come full circle for Scranton Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley. Growing up in Tampa, Florida, he followed two major league teams who did their spring training in his hometown: the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees.

Miley, a infielder, would be signed by Cincinnati in 1980 and spend the next 26 seasons in the Reds' organization as a player, coach and manager. In 2006 he made the jump to the Yankees, and now wears the dark blue pinstripes.

"If you grew up in Tampa you were either a Reds fan or a Yankee fan," Miley admitted. "I was partial to the Reds. Not only did the team train in Tampa, but they had a Class-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpins, so I saw quite a few of the Reds come through the system."

Those were the days of the "Big Red Machine" of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, George Foster, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan. Little did Miley realize at the time, but he would be drafted by the Reds out of Chamberlain High School in 1980 and converted to catcher in order to find Bench's replacement.

"I had an opportunity to go to the University of Miami," he said, "but when I was drafted in the second round by the Reds, I couldn't turn it down. It was like a dream come true."

Miley spent seven seasons in the Reds farm system as a catcher, batting .238 with 16 home runs and 172 RBI. His progress was hampered by knee surgery in 1982, and though he made it to Triple-A ball the following season, Joe Oliver went on to become Bench's replacement.

"I got the opportunity to coach in the Reds' organization in 1986 when I was still fairly young, and I took it," said Miley in a recent interview. "I still wanted to play, but the decision worked out well for me."

So well in fact that during Miley's minor league managerial career, he posted a 1,184-914 record (.564) and an impressive 13 winning seasons, which included a 2001 Governor's Cup Championship over the former Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

The Tampa native was so highly regarded within the Cincinnati organization that he was named the interim manager of the Reds on July 28, 2003, replacing Bob Boone. Signed to a two-year contract after the '03 season, Miley was named "National League Manager of the Year" by Baseball America in 2004.

"I was very grateful to the Reds organization," said the Yankee skipper. "As a player I had the opportunity to make it to Triple-A where I played with Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Paul O'Neil, and Cal Daniels. When I got into the managing side of the game, I had the privilege to develop players like Reggie Sanders and Adam Dunn. Then, in 1993, I had the opportunity to be Tony Perez's bench coach. Even when I was let go by the big club in 2005, I stepped into a terrific opportunity with the Yankees."

These days Miley enjoys the challenges of managing at the Triple-A level. He's back in familiar territory, having spent six seasons in the International League from 1998 through 2003 with Indianapolis and Louisville, where he established franchise records for wins (296) and games managed (541).

"I think the best part of my job is sending one of my players to the big leagues," said Miley, "especially if it's his first time up. There's no more rewarding feeling than that. Of course, there are challenges, too. You really have to communicate with the players and be as honest as you can. A player may not always like what you're telling him, but if it improves his performance he needs to hear it. Our job is to develop the players so they can move up and help the big club win. Communication is a big part of that job. I think we're doing that pretty well here in Scranton, especially our pitching coach Dave Eiland, who already has done fine job with Phil Hughes and Matt DeSalvo."

Miley is also grateful to be part of the most storied franchise in baseball history. Even when he was with the Reds organization, he marveled at the "organization, discipline and class" of the Yankee players at every level of play. "When I put these pinstripes on for the first time in 2006," he said, "it was like no other feeling in the world. What other organization has won as many world championships?"

With Dave Miley at the helm in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, there will definitely be a few more of those championships as his players move up to Bronx.