Death of Angels’ Skaggs brings back memories of Mike Miley

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Mike Miley
Mike Miley played parts of two major league seasons before his untimely death in January 1977.

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs unexpectedly died in his hotel room Monday at the far-too-young age of 27.

It’s not the first time an Angel has gotten his wings, and one of those far-too-young moments hit close to home.

Incredibly, it has been 42 years since Mike Miley was killed in a one-car accident on Jan. 6, 1977, in Baton Rouge.

Perhaps you’ve passed by the playground bearing his name on West Metairie Avenue. What you may not know is it bears the name of one of the greatest athletes ever to come out of the New Orleans area.

Mike Miley was a four-sport standout at East Jefferson High School, playing football, basketball and baseball and running track for the Warriors.

He was best known for his football and baseball abilities. He started at quarterback for three years and was twice an all-state shortstop.

The Cincinnati Reds made Miley their first pick in the 1971 Major League Baseball amateur draft. He passed on the Reds to play football and baseball at LSU.

In Baton Rouge, Miley quarterbacked the Tigers in 1973 and played shortstop for three years, twice earning recognition on the All-SEC Western Division team.

Draft eligible again in 1974, again Miley was a first-round pick – this time No. 10 overall to the Angels.

After signing with the Angels, he ascended quickly through California’s system, making his debut on July 6, 1975, a little more than a year after his final game at LSU.

Miley spent the second half of 1975 in the majors and got a late-season call-up in 1976 after playing the entire year with Class AAA Salt Lake City.

Three months after the end of the 1976 season, Miley was gone.

As Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons noted Tuesday morning, he was not the only Angel to die in the midst of his career.

Though difficult, the Angels will continue their season with heavy hearts, keeping Tyler Skaggs in their memories. It’s something they’ve done far too many times before.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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