He’s a versatile kinda guy, this Jake Miille …
The engaging 19-year-old is first and foremost known for his baseball prowess as a member of a myriad local diamond squads.
He’s played Davis Little League and on local travel-ball teams. He toiled in the Blue Devil bullpen (graduating in 2013) and, most recently, is serving in a number of positions for the Yolo Post 77 American Legion squad.
And Miille’s accomplishments go far beyond the outfield fences of county ballparks.
A business major, Miille attends Chico State. He is an advocate for keeping American Legion ball alive and, remarkably, has evolved into a go-to photography guy for U.S. railroads. But then again, he might go into working in fire service someday.
The son of Brent Miille, a Korematsu Elementary teacher, and Sue Brandow, an Applegate Nursery School mainstay, Miille grew up in a household focused on the national pastime. Brent coached Davis High junior varsity baseball and a handful of travel-ball and DLL All-Star teams. Jake’s brother Jed also was a member of the DHS baseball team in 2004-06.
Jed just finished a year teaching at Gibson Elementary (Woodland) while sister Ema is a manager at Dos Coyotes Restaurant in North Davis.
“My experience with Post 77 has been unbelievable,” says Jake, a one-time reliever who this summer is getting his first chance at everyday play since Little League. “It was shocking … when (Yolo manager Dave Ryan) came to me and said ‘You’re going to be hitting fourth today.’ I started thinking, ‘When was the last time I swung a bat?’ ”
Three years ago, to be exact. Research shows Miille went 3-for-4 in a summer ball win over Oak Ridge.
When given a bat for the first time in the Chico Father’s Day Tournament, Miille hit over .500 and had a walk-off hit to help send Post 77 to the championship game (which it narrowly lost).
Given a chance to play first base and outfield, Miille also continues to pitch. He started Wednesday’s home win over West Sacramento.
“He’s one of our team leaders and a guy I can rely on,” Ryan told The Enterprise, adding that Miille was pressed into service as a first-base coach during the Chico tourney. “We’re finding there’s not much he can’t do.”
Miille learned to put his nose down and do the work when he started playing for his dad during Little League.
“Having him around was just huge,” the youngest Miille explains. “He’d always tell me, ‘As a coach’s kids, you’ve got to work twice as hard because you have to prove to everyone else that when you start at shortstop, there’s no question that you’re the shortstop; that there’s no question you’re the pitcher when you’re on the mound.’
“He got me tougher and created a better ethic in me than I would have naturally had.”
The easy-going Miille laughed when answering a question about his normal demeanor:
“I wouldn’t say I’m otherwise lazy, but often, if I don’t have to work hard, well …”
But his dad told him, in baseball at least, it’s all about hustle and winning a spot through your work ethic and, in turn, ever-improving ability.
Miille is playing the best ball of his life this summer, hitting .360 on the season and sporting an eye-popping on-base percentage around .600.
Miille, who’s been around baseball since he could walk, has a zillion diamond tales to tell. His dead-on impersonation of Davis High coach Dan Ariola is radio-ready. Personality, knowledge, a good storyteller … Don’t be surprised broadcasting becomes another of the notches on his belt.
For now, that other track Miille often ventures down revolves around his love of photography and the railroad.
“Ever since I was 11 or 12 and got my first digital camera, I’ve been taking pictures of trains,” Miille reports.
“It’s really taken off the last few years.”
Miille remembers a time at Davis High that he excused himself from an English class “to go to the bathroom.” In reality, the new-age Mathew Brady had been contacted by officials from Union Pacific Railroad. He ditched class to go to the Quad and negotiate a deal for his photos.
“It’s something that’s brought me a lot of joy and something I want to do in the future,” Miille told The Enterprise, which recently published one of his local-news shots. (Folks can find Millle’s work at www.jakemiillephotography.com.)
And then there’s mom …
“She’s been as supportive as any mom could ever be — not just in baseball, but anything in life,” Miille says.
In playing two years of American Legion, Miille has regularly given his mom a chance to see his games. During high school, Sue’s Applegate demands prevented her from attending many of the Blue Devil afternoon games.
“She was disappointed when our games (last week) got canceled,” Miille adds. “But my favorite thing she does for baseball? It’s with the articles in the newspaper. As soon as she sees my name, she goes and cuts it out and puts it in big binder.”
Nice. Sue, start cutting here.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-320-4456.