Home port: JUCO a big reason Navy veteran settled in Grand Junction
Leroy Miller has fond memories of traveling with his father from Grand Valley (now Parachute) to Grand Junction to watch the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series back in the 1960s.
“We made the trip all the time,” Miller recalled.
A life in the Navy took him to many ports, but when he retired, he and his wife wanted to move back to western Colorado.
That was five years ago, and when Miller and his wife settled in Grand Junction, his childhood memories began to resurface.
As for the things he anticipated, “I get to catch JUCO again,” he said.
Miller arrived at Suplizio Field at 11 a.m. on Saturday and sat through 11 hours of games before finally calling it a night. He was back at the field bright and early for Sunday’s 10 a.m. game.
What would make a retired military man endure rain and weather delays to sit through 11 hours of the tournament?
“I love baseball,” he said.
Miller’s wife is not as big a fan of the game as he is, but that doesn’t deter Miller from heading to the park by himself.
“She knows every year this is my time,” he said.
Over the years, he developed a rooting interest in San Jacinto (Texas) College-North. He liked to follow successful programs.
“This year I’ll probably go with Howard (College),” he said of his allegiance, but San Jac still holds a special place in his heart.
Still, “I like to see new teams come in here,” he said, although all 10 teams in this year’s JUCO field have been here before.
Quite simply, Miller returns because he enjoys the level of competition.
“I like to see the younger kids play,” he said.
In fact, he wishes the community could land another team similar to the old Grand Junction Eagles semipro team.
Lacking that, he’ll return every year to watch the JUCO tournament.
Even if intermittent rains put a damper on the tournament throughout the week, Miller plans on taking his seat on the third-base side behind home plate.
“Oh yeah,” he vowed of catching the entire week’s action. “I’ll be here.”
That’s more than fitting today, Miller being a retired military man, since veterans (and active military personnel are honored on Memorial Day for their service to the country with free entry to JUCO games.