The intensity doesn’t drain from Tim
Miker when he removes his football helmet for the last time every season. No, he takes it from the football field to the baseball field. The talented Parma senior often receives good-natured ribbing from
those who believe he should leave his fiery approach on the
gridiron. Said Miker: “They say, ‘it’s baseball … just relax.'” Miker can't.
No, he takes it from the football field to the baseball field. The vastly talented Parma senior often receives good-natured ribbing from those who believe that he should leave his fiery approach on the gridiron.
“My teammates give me a lot of grief for it,” he says. “They say, ‘it’s baseball … just relax. It’s a laid-back game.’”
Perhaps, but Miker simply doesn’t thrive by sitting cross-legged in the outfield and chanting peacefully. And one can’t argue with the results. He batted .500 last season and set school single-season records with 45 hits, five triples and 39 stolen bases. Remarkably, he was caught just once.
And when he’s wielding a bat, he’s doing it with more than a touch of anger.
“I go to the plate mad,” he admits. “I like to hit pissed off. I think the team needs it to stay aggressive. And they keep me in check by keeping my calm. So it works both ways.”
It also works. The Redmen, who have struggled in baseball over the years, finished 17-10 and tied for second place in the Northeast Ohio Conference Lake Division in 2007, winning 12 of their last 13. Miker, who bats leadoff, often opened games with a hit and stolen base, thus giving his team momentum.
Most of those hits were to the opposite field, a fact that brought a smile to the face of Parma coach Ryan Dillon. He had been working diligently with Miker on going with the outside pitch. As the season progressed, he even began hitting inside pitches to right field, displaying his strength by muscling the ball over the heads of the infielders.
“We really worked on mastering the concept of driving the outside pitches to the opposite field,” Dillon explains. “Plus anything to the right or left of the infielder and Tim is going to beat it out. He’s really able to set the table for us.”
Miker did more than set the table on the football field. Despite his distinct lack of height at 5-foot-8, he earned Northeast Ohio Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors and was a first-team all-district pick after leading the Redmen to a 7-3 record and the brink of a playoff berth.
But his love for football has detracted from his future on the diamond. He shunned summer baseball in favor of participating in various football combines. College baseball scouts, however, make their decisions based on evaluations made during the summer. Miker admits that he now wishes he had participated in summer baseball, but was driven by his love for football. He has already committed to taking his football talents to perennial Ohio Athletic Conference contender Baldwin-Wallace.
“My dad told me that the best way for me to make it to the Division I level based on my size and speed was to play baseball,” Miker says. “I do love both sports, but I definitely wanted to play college football. If I had to do it over again, I would have played baseball this summer, but I only would have agreed to play baseball at a big school if they had let me play football as well.”
Meanwhile, Miker continues to drive pitchers crazy, both in the batter’s box and on the bases. He has learned the nuances of stealing bases, which he combines with sheer speed to result in an amazing success rate.
“Last year, our second hitter did a great job of always taking the first pitch, which helped a lot,” he said. “But I did work a lot on my explosion. As soon as I see the front leg of the pitcher move, I take off. One of the key things for me in baseball and football is that quick burst.”
The quick burst? That too might be at least partially a product of playing mad.
“He’s such a fiery competitor,” Dillon says. “He just doesn’t like to lose. He’s a very vocal and intense leader.”
Miker is also a history buff. In fact, he plans on teaching that subject someday, which leads one to ask the following question:
Can you teach history with anger and intensity?