Alomar and Miller have come a long way

Former Blue Jay Roberto Alomar bumps fists with friend Spencer Miller at Alomar’s induction into...

Former Blue Jay Roberto Alomar bumps fists with friend Spencer Miller at Alomar’s induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys last year. (CRAIG GLOVER/QMI Agency file photo)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:55 PM ET

TORONTO - Spencer Miller was there to introduce his pal Robbie Alomar on induction day at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame a year ago.

Miller was in the front row, alongside Alomar’s parents, on induction day in Cooperstown last Sunday.

And he’ll be on the big board in centre field Sunday afternoon during Marnie Starkman’s pre-game ceremonies as the Blue Jays retire Alomar’s uniform No. 12 ... the first Jay to have his number retired.

Miller has always been there for Alomar going back to the second baseman’s arrival in Toronto in 1991.

And Alomar has been there for Miller.

“Robbie phones every day, through good times and bad,” Miller said. “Didn’t matter if he was with the Baltimore Orioles, the Cleveland Indians or the Jays. He’d still call, ask how I was doing, check in. He’s my best friend.”

Their relationship began when filming an ad for the Hugh MacMillan Rehabilitation Centre when Miller was 9 1/2 years old.

Miller, restricted to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy since childhood, is now 30.

As patron for the rehab centre, Alomar delivered the line “I’m gonna get a hit for this kid. How about you?”

Not as popular as Alomar’s McCain’s Punch ‘Catch the Taste!’ commercial, but effective when it came to raising monies.

Miller’s lungs collapsed when he was three years old.

He’s always been in a wheelchair

And almost always a pal of Alomar.

“We’ve come a long way together, Spencer is like an adopted son,” the hall of famer said this week.

Miller threw out the first pitch with Alomar doing the catching before a Jays home game in 1993 and presented flowers to Princess Diana on a royal visit.

Now, a motivational speaker, he has a TV show on ThatChannel.com and his Sunday message from the scoreboard will come from the heart.

“I’m a firm believer you either click with someone or you don’t,” Miller said this week watching the Jays beat the Orioles. “Robbie and I had a special relationship from the start.”

Miller has a roaster’s sense of humour (check out his YouTube interview with comedian Russell Peters). He’s quick and witty.

Speaking of Alomar is a serious subject.

“Some people see Robbie and I, they think: ‘Oh there is a popular ball player being nice to the handicapped,’ but Robbie saw me for me,” Miller said. “We’re more like family. Like brothers. To be included as part of his family last weekend on the biggest day of his career was great.”

Miller took a VIA train to Kingston, met a friend, they drove to Cooperstown and bunked at the Holiday Inn Express and Miller was alongside the Alomar family come speech time.

He credits Maria and Sandy Alomar raising their sons, Sandy, Jr. and Robbie, the right way.

“Robbie is a solid man,” Miller said. “He would do anything he can for people close to him. In life you have these core people who will be 100% there for you. I have never asked for any privileges.”

So, Alomar invited his friend to introduce him at St. Marys.

Miller hit a grand slam with his unscripted speech last year, knocked it out of the park ... even Jarry Park.

Charles Bronfman approached Miller, tears running down the cheeks of the former Montreal Expos owner, to say: “That was one of the best speeches I’ve heard in 20 years.”

“His greatness defined in a sport of those who play with an ‘IT’ factor is unprecedented,” Miller said. “Robbie is the quintessential example of what greatness is at second base.”

Alomar sits in a comfy chair inside the sky box watching on the flat screen talking with former teammate Duane Ward and Rob Jack of the Jays.

“You know Spencer is an inspiration to me,” Alomar says nodding across the box as his father talks with Miller.

Miller is told how he inspired the future hall of famer.

“To hear that, yeah you take it in,” Miller says as he pauses.

“To me Roberto Alomar is Robbie, great at his job. That’s not why we connected, why it has been sustained. There has to be a love and chemistry that can’t be explained.”

Miller will try to explain in his message.

Don’t be late.


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