The Palm Beach Post’s Tom D’Angelo on one man’s efforts to ensure Billy Koch is not so quickly forgotten in the big leagues.
Justin Miller’s body art, those pieces visible in public, led Major League Baseball to rule that he has to wear long sleeves when he pitches.But it’s the one seen only inside the sanctity of the major-league clubhouse that can be described as a real pain in the butt.
Tattooed on the newest Marlin’s buttocks is the phrase: “I (heart) Billy Koch.” Koch, a former reliever who spent time with the Marlins, paid Miller $1,000 plus picked up the $80 tab from Mom’s Tattoos in Dunedin before the 2004 season for the advertisement. Koch felt so bad for Miller’s wife, Jessica, for “having to see it every day,” that he gave Jessica an additional $500.
“It gets some funny remarks, like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ ” Miller said.
Miller became the league’s equivalent of Dennis Rodman during spring training of 2004 when the league ordered him to cover his arms, claiming the tattoos would distract hitters.
“I don’t understand it, but it was easy to do,” Miller said. “They asked me and I said no problem.”
Miller’s art remains a work in progress. Virtually his entire body is covered except from the neck up and, with the exception of his tribute to Koch, other areas that aren’t typically exposed in public.
But that could change, too.
“I think about getting my head tattooed all the time, but not until baseball is over,” he said.
On behalf of men and women across North America, I urge Miller to reconsider. Please, tattoo your head as soon as possible.