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Thread: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

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    Member NebraskaRed's Avatar
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    Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    The story of Eddie Milner illustrates the dangers of drug abuse better than anything that was produced by the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign in the 1980’s

    Born on May 21, 1955, in Columbus, Ohio, Eddie Milner was the son of Eddie James Milner Sr. and Evangeline Milner. Though relatively small (he claimed to be 5’11, though other records show him to be 5’10), Eddie showed great speed and agility when it came to a number of sports. His high school football career caught the attention of Ohio University, and he was a good enough wrestler that he was offered a scholarship to the University of Iowa. However, Milner turned down both opportunities and accepted an offer to play at the Division III level with Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio instead. Unfortunately, Milner never played an inning of ball there after he injured his back while lifting weights. He left Muskingum College and returned to Columbus where he began working in a steel mill.

    He didn’t give up on playing baseball, however, and by playing in a summer league he eventually attracted the attention of the coaching staff at Central State University, who offered him a scholarship that Milner quickly accepted. After playing there for 2 years, Milner was invited to a clinic where he would be able to be seen by professional scouts. It paid off as Milner was eventually drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 21st round of the 1976 amateur draft.

    Over the next four years Milner worked himself up from Billings to Tampa to Double-A Nashville and Triple-A Indianapolis. After hitting .287, stealing 43 bases, and leading Indianapolis with six triples, Milner received a late-season call-up to the Reds. He got his first big-league hit on September 25, a run-scoring double off of Atlanta reliever Steve Bedrosian.
    “I rounded second and tripped,” Milner said about his first hit. “The guys were really laughing at that. [Reds manager] John McNamara asked me if I could still play defense because I was slightly shaken up after falling. I was happy that nobody hit me the ball the rest of the game.”

    Milner earned his way into the starting lineup for the 1982 season, hitting .268 in 113 games. He played in a career-high 146 games in 1983, hitting .261 with nine homers and 33 runs batted in. Milner stole a career-best 46 bases that year. It was in the following season that his career began to crumble. Milner’s cocaine use grew from recreational to daily. In 1984, upset by his increasing lack of playing time, the death of his mother, and injuries (including his reoccurring back pain), Milner’s cocaine use got out of control.

    His batting average dropped to .232 in 1984, and he stole 21 bases in 34 attempts. He bounced back to hit .254 with 35 steals and a career-best 82 runs scored in 1985.

    Though he seemed to be doing better on the field, Milner’s drug use only got worse after he was traded to San Francisco. It was during the 1987 season that Milner entered a drug-abuse treatment program for the first time. After hitting .252 in 101 games for the division-winning Giants, Milner was granted free agency after the season.

    He got back on with the Reds in 1988 but quickly relapsed in March and was suspended for a year. Milner was reinstated after completing another rehabilitation program. He spent time with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Nashville in 1988 before playing 23 games and batting just .176 for the Reds. He retired after the season, finishing with a .252 batting average, 42 homers, and 195 RBIs, along with 145 stolen bases, in 804 games.

    “His problems might have cost Eddie about $10 million,” said Reds special assistant Gene Bennett. “He was Deion [Sanders] before Deion. He was that good.”

    Milner has worked a series of odd jobs since his playing days, including a stint with the postgame cleaning crew at Cincinnati’s Cinergy Field in 1996.

    “I lost my wife, my job in a game I really love. I lost just about everything,” he said. “I was even homeless a few times.”

    In 1997 Milner became an ordained evangelist, and he began using his battles with drugs to minister to those who were having the same types of issues. He says he tries to use his past to help others have a better future.

    Milner says, “I tell them not to forget the past, to remember it so we can make better decisions in the future. I still attend NA and AA meetings. I try to stick around baseball. I do some construction jobs. It’s all part of my recovery that I put into God’s hands.”


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    GO XAVIER! toledodan's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    last i heard about him he was working in monroe at min wage as a minuteman. he would bring baseball cards into work with him and sign them for co workers. very sad situation for him.
    there's nothing like bowling a 300 game! 13 now and retired.


    Ricky henderson has a higher OBP than C. patterson and he's retired. C. Trent 6-14-2008

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    Knowledge Is Good Big Klu's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    Eddie Milner was one of my favorite Reds when I was 12-13 year old kid in 1982 and '83. He was one of the few bright spots on the '82 team, eventually wresting the starting LF job from the mightily disappointing Clint Hurdle. He then took over as the regular CF in 1983.

    I hope he is able to triumph in his ongoing personal struggle with his addiction.

    Eddie's cousin was former Mets and Pirates slugging 1B/OF John Milner, who was involved in the Pittsburgh Drug Trials in the 1980's. I have sometimes wondered if John was ever involved in introducing Eddie to cocaine.
    Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. Damn glad to meet ya.

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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    Eddie Milner's batting stance is etched permanently in my brain...

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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    In a twist of tragic, poetic irony, Milner was traded for Frank Williams, who also battled addiction; alcohol, and died homeless in 2009.
    "I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody".
    —Bill Cosby

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    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    If memory serves me correctly, Milner was an Ohio HS wrestling state champ.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    Fascinating journey to the bigs that I was unaware of....thank you for sharing NebraskaRed!
    Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand

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    Knowledge Is Good Big Klu's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    Quote Originally Posted by George Anderson View Post
    If memory serves me correctly, Milner was an Ohio HS wrestling state champ.
    I didn't know that. He certainly had a wrestler's build.
    Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. Damn glad to meet ya.

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    I believe Dave Parker said Eddie Milner was the finest leadoff hitter he had every played alongside.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    13 Belongs in Cooperstown Captain13's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    He was one of my favorites at the time, Concepcion, Soto and Milner.
    What if this is as good as it gets?

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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    We condemn the PED era but forget the 70s/80s drug problems with coke and speed. Milner can be added to names like Gooden and Strawberry...players who saw not just careers but their lives derailed. In personal destruction the drug problems of that era were far greater.

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    Member Sea Ray's Avatar
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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    What I remember about Eddie Milner was how stupid Pete Rose was to platoon him in CF with a young Eric Davis. Given the lack of LH SPs, that meant Eddie was getting about 80% of the starts while Eric Davis languished on the bench. Not one of Pete's better moments as manager. He later repeated the same mistake by platooning himself at 1B with young Nick Esasky

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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    I recall Rob Neyer had Milner rated as the best defensive center fielder of all time. I think it was in this book but I searched for this but couldn't find it.

    Does anyone else remember that?

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    Re: Player Profiles - Eddie Milner

    Little known fact: Eddie is tied with Cesar Tovar for spoiling the most no-hitters in baseball history with five.


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