A normal guy from a normal town. That's professional baseball player Aaron Miles.
If you were to meet him for the first time, not knowing who he was, he might remind you of the kid next door. He may not be the biggest, strongest, or best-known baseball player, but he makes up for it with skill, speed, intelligence and hard work. He is a gamer. Miles is a real model of inspiration for a student of the game.
In a recent interview, Miles never once alluded to his status, or what he has done, but he did show that he hasn't forgotten his Antioch roots.
Miles will sign photos (courtesy of the Outback Steakhouse) from 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Antioch Historical Society's Sports Legends Program at 1500 W. Fourth St. in Antioch.
Miles, a student of the game and an eloquent storyteller, is just as cool and complete as anyone you have ever met. He has a passion for his children, his profession, and now and again enjoys occasional television shows on The History Channel, Discovery and ESPN, and is a big fan of "Lost." Miles also is a connoisseur of restaurant eating. In his spare time he loves teaching young ballplayers the fundamentals of the game and aspires to one day become a youth-centered coach.
Miles, who grew up in Antioch, wasn't the first major-leaguer in his family. His uncle, William Daniel "Dee" Miles, played eight years with Washington, Philadelphia and Boston of the American League from 1935-43.
He remembers when he and his father would train daily, practicing fundamentals, gaining the muscle memory necessary to become a successful athlete. But it was fun. His father used training reinforcement as a reward for conquering personal goals.
"We would have 'Super Sundays' to break personal training records. Dad made sports fun and a reward for improvement," he said. One can tell Miles loves what he does. Every time the subject of baseball comes up, he lights up like a lamp when delivering his heartfelt responses.
Miles graduated in 1995 from Antioch High School where he played baseball and football. He turned down a baseball scholarship from Cal when he was drafted by the Houston Astros as a second baseman.
After playing in the minor leagues for eight years, one day in the middle of a game while playing for the Chicago White Sox's AAA affiliate, he was told that he had better take care of himself because it was time. It was September 2003, and this his chance of a lifetime. He would finally get to tell his childhood hero and inspiration, his father, the news. He was so excited that the next time he was at bat he belted it over the wall.
Standing at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Miles had accomplished what so many before him could not: become a professional athlete.
He's played with four teams in eight seasons in the big leagues. No doubt his most memorable moment, aside from his debut, was when he won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.
"It was an amazing feeling-of-a-lifetime accomplishment," he said. "You can't believe you've made it this far."
Every time he sees a photo of this event, it brings a smile to his face because of the camaraderie and bonds he had built through seven months of hard work, which finally paid off, he said. He was a champion. He is a champion.
"One of the best messages I can ever give someone who wants to accomplish anything in life, is that you never know what you're going to be capable of accomplishing." he said. "Be the best you can be, keep up your grades, dedicate yourself and it will make you a better person in the long run. You will like yourself in the long run."
Miles has fought off so many odds, worked hard and accomplished what many of us only dreamed of. Antioch was so proud of its native son that Nov. 20, 2004, was "Aaron Miles Day," when he was honored for his major league accomplishments.
As Miles takes his time off to work out, practice and spend time with family, he eagerly awaits that next card to be dealt to play in "The Show" once more. Miles is a great baseball player, a loving family man, and an esteemed person. He is proud of his home, as his home should be proud of him.
Todd Washburn is a freelance writer and East County resident.