Millays make tourney a family affair

Juneau East coach returns with son to the scene of his Little League glory days

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A sense of nostalgia swept over Mark Millay when he arrived last week at Al Houghton Stadium for the 2002 Little League Regionals.

At age 12, Millay represented Alaska as part of the Juneau All-Star team in the 1975 Western Regional Tournament in San Bernardino.

Now, at 39, Millay is back in San Bernardino - this time as a coach.

Millay gets to watch his 12-year-old son, Christopher, create his own memories as a member of the 2002 Juneau East team at the Northwest Regional (both the Western and Northwest Regional tournaments take place in San Bernardino).

"I'm a real sentimental person and my wife, my mom and my sisters told everyone, 'You better get a handkerchief when he gets there,' and sure enough they were right," Millay said. "I've been walking around the grounds and then I sit down and look around and think about my experiences here. It was a lot of fun."

When Millay learned the Juneau team would be making the trip to the regionals, he told his son all about his experience.

"I was fortunate to have my son make the team and have the opportunity to coach," said Millay, who is one of Juneau East's two assistant coaches.

"He told me a lot about it, so I was already excited before I got here," Christopher said. "It's really cool so far."

While Millay said most of the site is just how he remembered it, he has noticed some significant changes.

"It's definitely grown," Millay said. "They've added some more buildings - more souvenir stands and dorm rooms. Before when we came, it seemed like we were just in the middle of the desert. The big thing for us Alaska kids was to go back behind the stadium and catch lizards. In Alaska, you don't run across too many lizards."

One thing that hasn't changed is Millay's distaste for the heat.

"I played catcher and the one thing I really remembered when you strapped the gear on, it was extremely hot," Millay said.

"He kind of told me (about the heat), but I didn't know it was going to be this hot," Christopher said.

Millay said that he is concerned about his players adjusting to the extreme climate difference.

Juneau's average high for August is 62 degrees; San Bernardino's average high is 96.

"He (Christopher) pitches ... we're a little worried about our pitching staff as far as the heat," Millay said. "We'll probably have to make more pitching changes. These are adverse conditions for us, exactly opposite. We don't play on grass fields and we don't usually have sunshine - it's wet half the time. I think if we could get some 50-degree weather and some rain, we could beat anyone."

Millay, whose 1975 team finished sixth in the San Bernardino tournament, thinks this could be Alaska's year.

"I think we have a better team this year than we did in 1975," Millay said.



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