Where are they now? Bob Miller

Where are they now? Bob Miller

Where are they now? Bob Miller
Baseball has changed a lot since Bob Miller won 11 games and started a World Series game as a rookie for the 1950 Whiz Kids, a team that captured Philadelphia's heart. Everybody can agree on that much.

Beyond that, it's all a matter of perspective. Many long-ago ballplayers are convinced that the players of their era were far superior to the modern breed and envy the freedom and perks the younger generations enjoy.

Miller, who turned 86 in June and still watches as much baseball as he can, isn't one of them. He admires the skills of today's players and is perfectly content to have lived in an era that now seems unspeakably outdated.

"I'm amazed at the quality of the players," he said from his home, 20 miles north of Detroit. "Boy, I just think the players today are fantastic, I really do. Particularly the shortstops. My gosh, I never saw so many great arms and great fielders like the shortstops today.

"I think the good players in any era could play in any other era. But there's more speed connected with the game today. And I've never seen so many pitchers who are 6-5 and 6-6. I never saw so many pitchers that throw 95 miles an hour. It's just amazing to me."

Miller can't explain why there so many current pitchers are as big and strong as they are. He speculated that maybe it's because of conditioning programs, which is just one of the big differences he's noticed.

"We were not allowed to lift weights. We were not allowed to throw a slider in the Phillies organization for years. They were saving our arms," he said.

"The biggest change is pitch counts. When [Hall of Famer] Robin Roberts used to pitch, hell, you could have a day off. I remember in Milwaukee once, I pitched 12 innings in a 0-0 game. We were rained out and nobody even warmed up for me."

Miller got off to a sensational start in 1950. He won his first eight decisions. His first victory was a complete game. He followed that with a pair of shutouts. Then he hurt his back. Even though he had a 10-year career, he never recaptured that early magic.

"We were not allowed any facial hair or jewelry and now, gee, everybody has a beard, a goatee, earrings, chains around their neck and stuff like that. Tattoos. I guess that's just the way youth is these days," he continued.

He doesn't agree with everything that's new. And he doesn't wish he played today, thank you very much.

"The uniforms. I really don't care for the way they wear the uniforms now. I used to like the pants halfway up the leg and showing that the socks had different colors for different teams. But they step on them now and nobody says anything," he said.

"I'm kind of glad we weren't allowed to do that. We had to wear shirts and ties on the road, sports coats or a suit. We had no choice. You did it or you were sent home. No free agency, no agents and no compromising. That's what the owners wanted and, hey, it was a good thing at the time. I wouldn't change a thing," he said.

"Some of them I thought were kind of silly. We were not allowed to shave in the clubhouse. We were not allowed to eat in the clubhouse. We were not allowed to play cards in the clubhouse. Now they do all those things. But, hey, it's just a matter of how your manager feels."

He carried that love of discipline into a coaching career at the University of Detroit that resulted in more than 900 wins and induction into the school's Hall of Fame.

He spends time visiting his children: Patrick is a financial planner, Bob is deputy supervisor of Redford Township and Mary had a successful career working for the computer company SAP. After having surgery on both knees he can't play golf anymore, but often rides in the cart while Patrick plays. "He's a scratch golfer. I'm just amazed at how far he hits the ball," he said proudly.

Yes, his life is pretty good. But there is just one tiny little part of baseball today he wishes he'd gotten in on. Like most players of his time, he had to work during the offseasons just to make ends meet. He sold cars for a while and then got into the insurance business.

"I wouldn't mind the money," he admitted with a laugh. "After my rookie year, [owner Bob] Carpenter wanted to give me a $1,000 raise. A thousand dollars. And I read in the paper where a guy won 10 and lost 14 and signed a three-year contract for $15 million. That's what I miss. The good paychecks."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.