Some sad news that is also personal for me to share. The state’s all-time winningest baseball coach, PRP’s Bill Miller, has passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Miller amassed 1,144 wins in 39 years with the Panthers, including 6 state titles (1994, 1995, 1996, 2008, 2013, 2017). He also lost in the state title game another four times and made the state tournament in 17 of 38 years. The Panthers are once again ranked #1 in the state and currently hold a 12-1 record. They returned every starter from last year’s championship team and their top 2 starting pitchers have already signed Division-1 scholarships. Point being, another state championship may be in the cards for the Panthers this year. I’m not sure how these records typically work in this situation, but it would be my guess that Miller would be given credit for the wins and potential title should the Panthers accomplish that.
But the wins and losses are not Miller’s only impact on the sport of high school baseball in Kentucky.
I grew up in the PRP area and attended Miller’s summer baseball camp more times than I can remember. It was always a highlight of my summer because it was the perfect mix of expert instruction with a fun atmosphere. He nurtured the star players as much as he did the players who were never going to make his varsity team when they got to PRP (that was me). He treated them all the same. He did it all while expanding the prestige of the PRP program and rising the level of play across the state. A rising tide lifts all boats, right? That was Bill Miller.
If you’ve never had a chance to visit the field at PRP High School, I find it hard to believe you will find a better high school field in the state. That only touches on the additions and improvements to the experience of both the PRP player and PRP fan over the last four decades. And he did it all while being a man of the upmost class.
I never played one second of varsity baseball at PRP High School. But when I heard that Coach Miller passed yesterday, it felt like I had lost MY coach. I would bet the last time I attended his camp was maybe at 10 or 11 years old. Yet Coach Miller still remembered my name once I made it to PRP. That meant something to me. I can only imagine the pain his former players are experiencing right now and the struggle it will be for his current ones to try and finish out a season where they are favored to win it all but will be without their guide.
If you don’t have a rooting interest in high school baseball I would suggest throwing your support behind the Panthers for the rest of this season. RIP Coach Miller.