As the road to Omaha, Neb. and the College Baseball World Series has unfolded the past few weeks, ESPN viewers have been privy to expert coverage.
Five of the analysts working the Regionals, Super Regionals and College World Series played in Omaha, including USC’s Morgan Ensberg (1998 champion), Oklahoma State’s Robin Ventura, Stanford’s Kyle Peterson, Georgia Tech’s Nomar Garciaparra and Arizona State’s Paul Lo Duca.
But ESPN has former CWS competitors working behind the scenes, too, like Associate Producer Seth Miller.
In the July 2002 ESPN The Magazine photo above, he’s the Clemson Tigers catcher whose facemask is on the business end of South Carolina Gamecocks hitter Trey Dyson’s bat.
“My mom actually has that framed,” said Miller, who is working on the graphics of games airing from Omaha throughout the tournament.
“I think I said something to him. They are our rivals, so it was heated. I think I told him to watch his backswing. He apologized and we moved on.”
The Gamecocks eventually eliminated Miller’s Tigers from championship contention.
But Miller singled in his last CWS at-bat — and began the journey to what now is an eight-year career at ESPN.
“I thought Seth would be good since he was kind of a jokester,” Hennessy said in an e-mail. “He loved it all week and I think he made some contacts from ESPN from there. And look where he is today.”
Armed with a flip camera — a small video recorder — Miller and his teammates decided to “document” their off-the-field activities.
They came up with footage that might have made Borat blush.
“We would just try to find the most odd and most uncomfortable situations for people to be in,” Miller recalled, avoiding specific details.
“It was stuff that we found hilarious. I don’t think television found it as funny. And I don’t think it ever aired.”
But the experience sparked an interest in sports journalism that Miller, a communications major, had not previously considered.
“That was the turning point for me about getting into the business, that whole experience. Having a camera and dealing with the ESPN features unit,” said Miller, who in the fall of 2002 helped ESPN out on college football telecasts, earned an ESPN internship in 2003 and fulltime job the next year.
Since 2005, he’s worked with ESPNU out of Charlotte, N.C. He’s been at every CWS, in some capacity, since 2002.
Working at the CWS in Omaha rekindles memories for the Lakeland, Fla. native.
This time, he’s had a chance to reunite with Florida skipper Kevin O’Sullivan and Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin, who faced off this week in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. They were assistant coaches on that 2002 Clemson Tigers team.
“I’m a very nostalgic guy. I’d grown up — College World Series and Little League World Series — I watched them every year,” Miller said.
“When I got here [in 2002], it was very emotional for me. Playing in the CWS is the pinnacle of college baseball and has also shaped my professional life. It was an experience that will always be a cherished memory of my baseball career.”
Well, there was that one painful close shave . . .
Besides Miller and the analysts we referred to earlier, ESPN has other College World Series veterans.
Ed Durso, ESPN’s Executive Vice President of Administration, was an All-Ivy League shortstop at Harvard in the 1970s.
He played in the College World Series twice, in 1973 and ’74.
Read more about ESPN’s coverage of the College World Series, June 18-28 or 29.