Baltimore Orioles

Ray Miller, former Orioles manager and longtime pitching coach, dies

Ray Miller, who managed the Orioles in the 1998 and 1999 seasons and served several tenures as Baltimore’s pitching coach, died this week, according to his family. He was 76.

Affectionately called “Rabbit” by his pitching staffs, Miller was known for his mantra of “Work fast, change speeds, throw strikes.” A right-handed pitcher born in Takoma Park, Miller played for 10 seasons in the minor league systems of the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Orioles. After his career, he spent the 1974-1977 seasons working as a minor league coach for Baltimore.


He initially joined the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff for the 1978 campaign, but the Orioles’ pitching coach job came open, allowing Miller to begin the first of his three tenures in that role. He was Baltimore’s pitching coach when the club won the American League pennant in 1979 and the World Series in 1983. In 1979 and 1980, he coached respective AL Cy Young Award winners Mike Flanagan and Steve Stone.

“His legacy will forever be enshrined in our organization’s history, having guided some of the greatest Orioles pitchers including Jim Palmer, Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Steve Stone, and Mike Boddicker,” the Orioles said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to his beloved family and his many friends throughout our great game.”


Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, one of five 20-game winners Miller coached with the Orioles, recalled an intrasquad game in Miller’s first spring training as pitching coach in which Flanagan had issued a couple of walks.

“Ray sprints to the mound, and he goes, ‘Mike, your rhythm’s off. You need to calm down,’” Palmer said Wednesday. “He goes, ‘Ray, it’s spring training.’ [Ray] goes, ‘Ah, that’s a good point,’ turned around and ran right back to the dugout.

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“He wanted to do well.”

Miller got his first managerial opportunity in 1985, taking over the Minnesota Twins in midseason. He led a team that had been 20 games under .500 at that point to a 50-50 finish, but the club struggled in 1986 and Miller was replaced in September. He spent the next decade as Jim Leyland’s pitching coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates, overseeing Doug Drabek’s 1990 Cy Young campaign, before becoming Davey Johnson’s pitching coach in Baltimore in 1997.

When Johnson resigned after the season, Miller replaced him as Baltimore’s manager, with Flanagan as his pitching coach. On Sept. 20, 1998, Cal Ripken Jr. came into Miller’s office and told him he was going to end his record streak of 2,632 consecutive games played.

“It was pretty emotional for me,” Miller said that night. “He told me one of the reasons he did this was me, and that really made me feel good. That’s the one time I choked up. He said it was his decision for several reasons, ‘And one of them was for you.’ And that made me feel pretty special.”

Under Miller, the Orioles won 79 and 78 games over the next two years, finishing no better than fourth in the AL East. He returned to the organization as pitching coach in 2004 and 2005, but surgery for an aortic aneurysm ended his coaching career. Miller was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2010.

When his Orioles managerial contract wasn’t renewed, Miller sent Palmer a note, thanking him for his support. They continued to share cards over the years, with Miller, a motorcycle enthusiast, telling stories of recent rides.


“He was a good listener,” Palmer said. “Ray was a great communicator. Ray didn’t just come out and bark things, whether you were throwing on the side or whatever, come out to the mound. He wasn’t going to do an Earl Weaver where you need to throw more sliders or whatever. It would always be more of a conversation. ‘What do we need to do to get a little bit better right here?’”