This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
There comes a point in the career of many ballplayers when their skills begin to diminish, and whatever team they’ve spent a considerable amount of time with decides to cut the cord. The likes of Pat Rapp, John Halama, and Midre Cummings are a few examples of players who started elsewhere, or spent a fair amount of time with one organization before beginning a odyssey through different uniforms to stay employed. For these guys and others, that long windy road took them through Boston and Baltimore. Occasionally though, a new opportunity presents itself where the player revitalizes their career with a change ofscenery. Kevin Millar is one of those players.
Kevin Millar was coming off a decent year with the Florida Marlins when they made a move to trade him to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central League. In order for the trade to go through, Millar had to pass through the MLB waiver wire. The Red Sox, looking to shore up the first base position after a sub-par 2002 season with Tony Clark, put in a waiver claim that set in motion a chain of events that ultimately put Millar in a Red Sox uniform for the 2003 season.
Millar’s versatility at first base and in the outfield, along with the pop in his bat, enabled him to win the starting job at first base. Millar and David Ortiz, another castoff from his original team, helped change the dynamic of an alleged cursed ballclub and led the charge towards history. It’s not necessary to recap what every Red Sox fan knows already, but Millar had a big role in the first World Series championship in 86 years for the local nine. Without his walk in the ninth inning of game four of the 2004 ALCS , Dave Roberts maybe doesn’t get a chance to steal second base and give Bill Mueller the opportunity to tie it up with a single up the middle. It wasn’t the only shining moment in Millar’s Red Sox career, but it was the brightest.
Millar’s 2005 season was less than stellar by comparison, and the Red Sox opted to not keep him around for another season. Millar found a new home with the Baltimore Orioles, and he rebounded with his power numbers. Despite the return of the home run stroke, Millar’s numbers continued to decline in his three seasons with the Orioles. He also brought his ‘Cowboy Up’ image to Baltimore, when he decided it was a good idea to bring back to life the folksy ‘Oriole Way’ rally song. Unfortunately for the Orioles, Millar’s best days were in fact behind him, and he had begun the life of the traveling veteran.
While it’s doubtful that Millar will recapture the glory of his Red Sox years, he has shown already in the early goings of the 2009 season that he still has some baseball left in his bat. In his fourth game for the Blue Jays, Millar cranked a grand slam off R.A. Dickey of the Minnesota Twins. It was his first homer with the Blue Jays, and the third AL East team he has hit a home run with. With the home run, he joined an exclusive club of players who have hit at least one home run with the Orioles, Red Sox and Blue Jays. The only other member of this club is the great Juan Beniquez , a serviceable traveling veteran in his own right who had eight different stops over a seventeen year career. As the Red Sox take on a Baltimore Orioles team that has a few traveling veterans on its roster, it seems appropriate to celebrate the one that benefited the Red Sox the most!