RIP Justin Miller and his Billy Koch butt tattoo
Former MLB pitcher Justin Miller was found dead on Wednesday in Palm Harbor, Fla., and there has been no explanation given for the cause of death.
Miller spent seven seasons as an MLB pitcher, first as a starter and later as a reliever. The Torrance, Calif., native went 24-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 375.2 career innings.
Miller was best known for his heavily-tattooed body. In fact, MLB created what was known as the Justin Miller Rule when they asked him to wear sleeves when he pitched because hitters complained that his tattoos were distracting.
According to a 2011 Seattle Times story, Miller got his first tattoo — an Indian warrior on his shoulder to depict his Mexican and Cherokee blood lines — at age 15. Miller estimated he had hundreds of tats on his body, but there is one that sticks out more than any other.
In 2001, before Miller made his Major League debut, he and Eric Hinske were traded to the Oakland A’s for closer Billy Koch. Years later, Koch was trying to make an MLB comeback and was in camp with Toronto for spring training when he dared Miller to get a tattoo on his butt that said “I love Billy Koch.”
Miller got the tattoo done and replaced the “love” with a heart. He was so excited about it he called Koch along the way to and from the tattoo parlor.
Koch paid for the tattoo, gave Miller $1,000 or $2,000 (both amounts have been reported) for his troubles, and even gave Miller’s wife $500 since she would have to look at the tat the rest of her life.
As awesome as that story is — and as daring as Miller was — he wouldn’t go too far with his tats. In 2008, Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen got arrested for DUI and dared Miller to get his mugshot tattooed on his butt.
“[Olsen] wants me to get his mug shot tattooed on my ass,” Miller told Inked. I don’t think that’s going to work. I don’t think my wife wants to see Olsen’s picture there. So we’re not going to go with that.”
Miller was a unique personality. He is survived by his wife and two sons.