Kevin Millar was an undrafted 21-year-old at a crossroads when he joined the St. Paul Saints in 1993. That was a charmed first season for the Saints, and it helped launch Millar’s 12-year major league career. He returned to St. Paul this weekend, as the Saints celebrated their 25th season with the release of a bobblehead featuring Millar and Bill Murray. Now a co-host of MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk,” Millar reflected last week with the Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen. On Saturday night, Millar was the designated hitter for the Saints against Winnipeg and hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat.
Q: What are some of your favorite 1993 memories?
A: One was Bill Murray coaching first base. That was amazing. Leon Durham hitting that game-winning home run in Duluth, and obviously, winning the [Northern League] championship. You can’t make that up what we did that year with [manager] Tim Blackwell, and we just had a great group of guys.
Q: Would you have guessed the franchise would be where it is 25 years later?
A: I’ll tell you what, Mike Veeck is so smart, and Marv Goldklang and all those guys that were involved behind the scenes — they just do such a great job to make it so fan-friendly. They did so many neat things: getting a haircut on the dugout during the game, getting a massage by some nuns during the game, the pigs bringing the baseball out. It’s such a great place, and we were sold out every single night because they did such a great job for the fans.
Q: What inspired your return to the Saints in 2010?
A: I had been released [by the Cubs], and I never wanted to forget where I came from. Without the St. Paul Saints, I wouldn’t have been in the big leagues because they gave me an opportunity. For the guys playing, just to give them hope. To understand that I was them, and as long as you have a jersey on your back, you have a chance.
Q: The bobblehead is a re-creation of a 1993 photo of you and Bill Murray, sitting on a couch at Midway Stadium. What were you guys talking about?
A: I believe he got kicked out of his hotel the night before for playing whiffle ball or baseball in his room with his kids. And he slept in his Winnebago in the parking lot that night. So that was awesome and pretty ironic, and that was exactly what you wanted from Bill Murray.
Q: I’m guessing you had seen “Caddyshack,” “Stripes” and his “Saturday Night Live” stuff. Were you star-struck?
A: One hundred percent. It’s Bill Murray. There’s some A-listers out there, but he’s a true A-lister because we’ve all seen all of his movies, and we all known what kind of sense of humor he has. And he is exactly the way he is in films. He’s a genius. He’s the best.
Q: How much fun are you having now on “Intentional Talk?”
A: It’s awesome because it allows me to stay in the game. But also, I have four little kids. I’m able to be Dad also. I wasn’t a TV guy by any means, but just being able to learn it. The show’s fun, and I keep it lighthearted. I think the fun thing about “Intentional Talk” is the players love it.