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 Cape Fear Officials Association

   Wilmington, North Carolina

Chapter Eternal

 

Longtime local umpire

Carl Miller dies at age 77

Baseball, softball official founded local association, was active with Optimist club

 

http://www.starnewsonline.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=WM&Date=20141205&Category=ARTICLES&ArtNo=141209817&Ref=AR&Profile=1177&imageVersion=Main&MaxW=445&border=0

Carl Miller makes a call in the infield. Contributed photo

By Tom Grady
jtgrady@ec.rr.com

Published: Friday, December 5, 2014 at 2:19 p.m. Last Modified: Friday, December 5, 2014 at 2:19 p.m.

If you played baseball or softball at various levels in the Wilmington area over the past several decades, you most likely knew Carl Miller. He probably called you out at the plate, or you had a similar experience through an official he directly assigned.

Miller founded the Cape Fear Officials Association back in 1986. He served as the booking agent and regional supervisor of officials, for youth to high school programs.

The man who spent countless nights and weekends on and around local diamonds died Thursday at the age of 77.

Wake for Mr. Carl Miller will be Sunday at Andrews Mortuary on market St at 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Funeral will be on Monday at 11 am Andrews Mortuary on Market St.

John Laughter was a longtime friend and Winter Park Optimist Club board member.

"I guess it was the late '60s that I first came in contact with Carl," Laughter said, noting Miller was umpiring here at that time. Laughter added that Miller was a member of Winter Park Optimist for many years and held nearly every position at the organization. He also worked for the state prison system.

Billy Sebrell worked closely with Miller over the past 20 years, on the field and as part of the Cape Fear Officials Association. Sebrell used common phrasing to describe his friend on the field: "A no-nonsense umpire."

"He was a mentor to many other adults; one of my best friends; a colleague," Sebrell said.

Mike Smith is a board member at Winter Park Optimist and a co-commissioner of club's baseball program.

"He always spoke what was on his mind," said Smith, who also played in local softball leagues where Miller was an ump. "You were either out or you were safe and there wasn't no arguing about it."

Local longtime softball coach Buck O'Shields said Miller and Marion "Tinkey" Rogers were the men in blue for the first local NCHSAA fast-pitch softball game between Laney and Hoggard in the fall of 1994.

Hoggard baseball coach Jeep St. Ledger knew Miller for 30 years.

"He did as much to promote baseball and softball as any other person, really in Wilmington," St. Ledger said. "He was a great person."

He learned early on where the ceiling was on how much a coach could argue a call with Miller on the field.

"He'd let you voice your opinions for awhile," St. Ledger said. "And then when he raised his right hand, and that was like a 45-degree angle, enough was enough.

"That's when you knew, OK, better start wrapping this up."

Smith said he spent many evenings sitting with Miller at a picnic table between the fields at Hugh MacRae Park. Everyone who passed by knew Miller, from kids to parents to grandparents.

Earlier this year, Miller told the StarNews for its 275th anniversary of Wilmington special issue that, "The people make Wilmington. They are so nice and sincere, always willing to help one another. Even with all the changes, it's still a great town with wonderful hospitality."

"I don't think there was a better friend I had," Smith said. "If I needed something or wanted something, all I had to do was pick up the phone and call Carl."

He could frequently be found at local youth or high school games, evaluating umpires or just watching the kids play.

"He viewed the T-ball game as just as important as he viewed a state championship game," Smith said. "He'll be missed."

Wake for Mr. Carl Miller will be Sunday at Andrews Mortuary on market St at 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Funeral will be on Monday at 11 am Andrews Mortuary on Market St.

Mr. Carl Miller family requested to us that in lieu of flowers please make any donations to Winter Park Optimist Club.  

 

 

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