Philadelphia Daily News - October 25, 1980

Al Miller Remembers Konstanty


By Phil Jasner


Jim Konstanty not only helped the Phillies win a pennant in 1950, he later helped prepare Al Miller for a coaching career that would, in 1973, include an NASL championship with the Philadelphia Atoms.


That connection crossed Miller's mind last week as the Phillies, 30 years after the fact, were winning not only a pennant, but a World Series, and Miller was becoming the coach of the new Calgary franchise in the NASL.


“Jim was the athletic director at Hartwick College who hired me, then helped shape the professional aspect of my career,” Al was saying on the phone from Alberta, where the NASL’s Memphis Rogues have relocated.


“When I worked for him, we had raging arguments because I could never understand why he was so critical, so analytical, always looking for the weak points rather than the strong ones. Eventually, it got through to me that a successful coach would have to do that. It's cold and hard, but it's true."


Konstanty, who died in 1976, was the brilliant relief pitcher who appeared in 74 games in 1950, establishing new levels of excellence and specialization in his profession. Now Miller, one of his proteges, will draw on that experience.


“I’M SICK AS hell about the Philadelphia franchise (the Fury) leaving for Montreal," he said. "It's just hard to believe that, for as many years as the city had a team, nobody was ever able to run it right. There's still a little piece of me back there, because we won the title the first season, then let it get away from us.


"What we did in 73 is something I've always wanted to do again, and Calgary seems like the place to try. The ownership met all of my pre-conditions, which tells me we can really make something out of this. This is a boom city, ready to explode."


Miller should have remembered in ‘73 and ‘74 what Konstanty had told him about the Whiz Kids.


"Jim always said Eddie Sawyer was a player's manager in '50," Al said, "a guy you could talk to, go to with your problems. But after they won, he said Eddie changed, that he had less time for them. Jim felt that was why the Phillies didn’t win again. There's a coaching lesson in there, and it's one I'll pay attention to with this team.


"The guy was tough, strong, tireless. Even though he never pitched for the Yankees, he always thought of himself as a Yankee, because he said they were the club that did everything first class. He made us do things the same way at Hartwick, and now I intend to do things that way up here. The longer I live and coach, the more he seems to be influencing me."