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Penn College history professor umpires T-Mobile Little League Home Run Derby Championship

A Pennsylvania College of Technology professor who umpired the T-Mobile Little League Home Run Derby Championship on Aug. 25 had his eyes on more than the ball – he was also appreciating the history of baseball and the social impact the game has on children and communities.

Held at Volunteer Stadium, part of the Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, the Home Run Derby will be televised on ESPN on Friday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. EDT.

“I love being around the game,” said Craig A. Miller, associate professor of history/political science and department head for social sciences & humanities. “There’s definitely a historical connection. A lot of fields around here are very old, and I love being part of the tradition. From a social science perspective, the game engages kids of all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses, and I’m humbled to be able to facilitate kids from all walks of life being able to play the game. I also enjoy working with kids because they really do a good job picking each other up during games. They encourage each other, laugh and joke, and I think it’s really good for their personal development. Also, being behind home plate is the best place to watch a game from.”

Craig A. Miller, a history/political science faculty member at Pennsylvania College of Technology, stands in Volunteer Stadium at the Little League International Complex in South Williamsport. Miller umpired the T-Mobile Little League Home Run Derby Championship, held during the 2022 Little League Baseball World Series.
Craig A. Miller, a history/political science faculty member at Pennsylvania College of Technology, stands in Volunteer Stadium at the Little League International Complex in South Williamsport. Miller umpired the T-Mobile Little League Home Run Derby Championship, held during the 2022 Little League Baseball World Series.

This year’s Home Run Derby, the fourth annual, was held during the 2022 Little League Baseball® World Series, Aug. 17-28. It was the second time Miller has umpired during the series; he served at a previous year’s game between Mexico and the Netherlands.

This umpire says he’s “indifferent” to the derby being nationally televised. “I’m hoping the camera just glides by me,” he joked. “It will make my parents proud, though. My mom is all excited.”

Miller has been umpiring baseball for more than seven years and found his way to the role after being sidelined by an injury.

“A friend told me they were having a hard time finding umpires,” he relayed. “I played baseball as a kid, but not well. I played adult league baseball in my late 20s and 30s, but a knee injury ended that, so umpiring seemed like a good way to stay connected with the game. One of the things I like about baseball, compared to other sports, is that it is not timed. The game unfolds as it will, and I think that’s something that’s lost in contemporary society; the game is never rushed.”

Miller umpires Little League baseball games for ages 10-12, 13-15, and 16 and up. Training for the role is required by Little League, and each district also offers optional yearly trainings. He plans to add American Legion Baseball and, possibly, high school baseball to his umpiring skill set.

“What draws me in and keeps me there is the kids – despite their parents,” he laughed.

The professor appreciates the history and traditions of the game. “Baseball is about community,” Miller added. “It’s always been this gravitational center for a community.”

Baseball has been played as a backstory to nearly every facet of American history, he cites, and has been at the forefront of societal change, from Jackie Robinson breaking the race barrier to female executives working for major league teams. And while much has changed in society, little has changed about the game itself. Miller admires its many constants.

“And one of the traditions that has remained is that everyone who is farther from the plate can see it better than I can,” he quipped.

Miller’s professional research interests include the history of war, political economy and legal history. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in history from the University of Buffalo and a bachelor’s in history from SUNY Geneseo. He joined the Penn College faculty in 2011.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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