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‘That was pretty special’: Brad Miller reflects on best moments with Phillies before return


Brad Miller was a fan. favorite in Philadelphia. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Brad Miller only spent parts of two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, but between bringing bamboo to the team for good luck in 2019 and hitting his fair share of no-doubt-about-it home runs, he developed a folk hero reputation among fans of the team.

After a successful second stint with the Phillies, Miller departed in free agency to sign a two-year/$10 million deal to join the Texas Rangers. Before the Rangers opened up a two-game stint at Citizens Bank Park Tuesday, Miller reflected on the 206 games he played in as a Phillie, a period in which he homered 32 times and posted an .818 OPS.

“I mean, I loved it here, I had some great memories here,” Miller said. “My wife and I got engaged here, [we just have] a lot of positive memories. We were really looking forward to coming back, even though it’s a quick series. But we got an off day here yesterday, so it will always be a special place.”

Miller hit 30 home runs as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016 and earned a two-year deal ahead of 2022, so it can be easy to forgot about the crossroads that he faced when the Phillies initially acquired him in a trade with the New York Yankees in June of 2019.

After undergoing surgery to repair a torn hip labrum in August of 2018 following his release by the Milwaukee Brewers, Miller signed a minor-league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers ahead of the 2019 season, which included an invite to Major League Spring Training. Ultimately, Miller didn’t make the Opening Day roster, and opted out of his contract.

Despite signing a one-year/$1 million Major League deal with the franchise now known as the Cleveland Guardians shortly after failing to make the Dodgers, Miller appeared in just 13 games with the team before being designated for assignment.

Miller then latched on with the Yankees, where he homered 1`0 times and drove in 29 runs in 136 at-bats at Triple-A. With no path to a promotion with the Yankees, the Phillies acquired Miller in a trade for cash considerations in the summer of 2019, a move that proved to be one of the best transactions of the Matt Klentak era.

For Miller, it was career-altering. In just 118 at-bats for Gabe Kapler’s squad, Miller homered 12 times and drove in 21 runs. It was a satisfying conclusion for Miller in a season where it at times felt like the sport was ready to move on without him. Instead, on his fourth team of the year, Miller re-established himself as a legitimate Major Leaguer.

“No question,” Miller said when asked if he revived his career in his first stint with the Phillies. “I feel like 2019 for me personally, I was coming off of a big hip injury and wanting to prove myself. And really, you’re right, that happy year in 2019, I had a really good September and was able to kind of get my career going again. You always have to prove yourself after a major injury. So, like I said, I have a ton of good memories here.”

Three multi-home run games in September allowed Miller to secure a one-year/$2 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals ahead of what turned out to be the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He would homer seven times and drive in 25 runs in 48 games as a Cardinal.

Miller returned to the Phillies as a top bench option ahead of the 2021 season, but ended up getting 331 at-bats in his second go-round with the Phillies. Able to play in a full season for the first time since the aforementioned 2016 campaign, Miller homered 20 times and drove in 49 runs.

Less than three years after three separate teams decided that Miller wasn’t worthy of a spot on their Major League team, the Rangers committed to him for multiple years. It was a remarkable turnaround for Miller, and while the Phillies went in another direction with the signings of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, Miller says that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld made sure to convey how excited they were for his future.

“It was really cool, after I signed here [with the Rangers] having Dave and Sam reach out to me and just say congratulations, I think there’s a lot of mutual respect there. I believe in what they were doing there, it was awesome and they are definitely in good hands. But yeah, definitely excited about where I ended up and this is the best spot for me. But obviously, Philly holds a big place in my heart. It’s just weird being back, not on the other side.”

Who knows what the future holds, but if Miller has played his last game in a Phillies uniform, he’s got quite a few remarkable moments to look back on.

Miller was on third base when Bryce Harper hit a walk-off grand slam against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 16, 2019, one of the most iconic moments in the 19-year history of Citizens Bank Park.

He homered three times at Wrigley Field in a win over the Cubs on July 8, 2021. That made him the first Phillie since Jayson Werth in May of 2008 to homer three times in a single game.

But among a bunch of great memories for Miller, his walk-off grand slam on July 29, 2021 that capped a comeback from a 7-0 deficit in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Washington Nationals stands out.

“Celebrating the walk off with the guys … I think about that day … the day with the doubleheader. We were down seven, I subbed into that game, struck out and we were down to our last strike. That was probably it, that whole thing because we came back from seven and it was a long day that kind of tested our resolve a bit. That was pretty special.”

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