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Ron Miller, Jr. isn’t like most kids his age, and not just because he stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 175 pounds.
Sure, at 13 years old, he is as tall and built as kids four to five years older, but what makes him special is that he is going against the common trend of Black kids who play sports.
Instead of making his name in basketball or football, Miller is doing so in baseball, where he has been a standout third baseman in the Ladera Senior Little League, leading the league in home runs the last two seasons.
A few weeks ago, his traveling team from the Major League Urban Youth Academy placed second in the 14-and-under sectional championships held at the Academy.
After the game, Miller and another teammate were selected by USA Baseball scouts to try out for their 14-and-under national team in Orlando in November.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Miller said. “It’ll be a hard tryout but I’m confident I’ll make it.”
Baseball runs through his family, as his mother was a softball player growing up in Louisiana. And when Miller was nine, he followed in her footsteps by playing baseball.
Listening to him, the kid definitely has confidence in his game and it is refreshing to see someone who grows up playing the game that has been steadily losing a Black presence
This past season, Major League Baseball is only 8.4 percent Black with some teams having no Black players on their rosters. The Dodgers and Angels had a combined 10 players on their 2007 rosters.
There are many questions the Black presence is dwindling, but a major one is that kids are more drawn nowadays to the gridiron or the hardwood where they feel they can better express themselves.
But according to Miller’s father, Ron Sr., that is exactly why his son is drawn to baseball. When he played football, he realized that only the quarterback got noticed which was far different than what he saw in baseball.
“To him, baseball is more fun because he gets to go to the plate and show what he can do,” Ron Sr. said.
Miller’s travel team coach, Crenshaw assistant Andre Green, praised him as the “next Chris Brown with a positive attitude” referring to the late Crenshaw High standout who became an All-Star with the San Francisco Giants.
And according to Green and Ron Sr., his son may follow Brown’s footsteps to Crenshaw after finishing his eighth grade year at View Park Preparatory High School. But as Ron Sr. points out, the athletic program is far from the only reason Crenshaw is in the picture.
“My niece went there and got an academic scholarship to UCLA through their magnet program,” he said, pointing out that his son had a strong 3.0 grade point average last year.
It also doesn’t hurt Ron Sr. is a proud alumnus of the Crenshaw (class of 1979) and that the Cougar baseball team have won the last two Coliseum League championships. Tradition and playing with a high level of talent, he says, are two big factors as well.
Meanwhile, Ron Jr. is focused on a good start to his school year at View Park. But come November, he’ll be busy, as his traveling team will head to Arizona to compete in the West regionals of the 14-and-under national tournament. Two weeks later, he heads off to Orlando for his Team USA tryout.
If his confidence and his game is any indicator, there’s a good chance he’ll be representing his country - and his community, in Costa Rica.