Jan. 13, 2009
for CBI America East preview
Innings with Justin Milo
By Phil Stanton
Samardzija starred in college football and college baseball for
Notre Dame. Andrew Brackman painted the corners and filled the
paint for NC State.
Meet Justin Milo, a not-so “ordinary” two-sport
Milo, a junior at Vermont, holds the distinction
of excelling on the ice and on the diamond. These days, Milo is
skating for the Catamounts’ hockey team, which is 12-4-3 and
seventh in the latest polls after a win and a tie against
defending national champion Boston College. The former two-way
player from Cornell is tied for third for Vermont with 15 points
(eight goals, seven assists). Milo, a forward, is tied for the
team lead with four power-play goals.
When the hockey season is complete (the Frozen
Four is April 9-11), he’ll trade his skates for spikes and give
the Catamounts’ baseball team a big mid-season lift. A year ago,
the outfielder batted .328 with six homers and 40 RBI in 50
games. He tied for third in the country with eight triples.
Milo, the first player to play hockey and
baseball at Vermont since Tom Quinn in 1993, dropped the gloves
for a few minutes to catch up with CollegeBaseballInsider.com
about his double life.
First Inning - Which is more difficult, hitting a
home run or scoring a goal?
Both are very difficult. Hitting a homer is very
tough but I’d have to say scoring a goal is more difficult
because there are five guys trying to hit you at the same time.
Inning - Which is a bigger thrill for you?
A hockey goal celebration is a lot of fun, but
seeing the ball land over the fence and then trotting around the
bases is a great feeling, too.
Third Inning - Why did you head to the East Coast
My dad grew up in New York City, and I really
like the East Coast. The schools in the east were more
receptive about playing two sports as well.
Fourth Inning - What are the similarities in
playing baseball and playing hockey?
It’s all about having good hands and good
hand-eye coordination. Taking swings with a bat strengthens the
forearms, which helps shooting, and vice versa. I think
baseball players that have a hockey background are the best
players in baseball, at least in the north. Several of my UVM
baseball teammates were very good high school hockey players.
Fifth Inning - Besides being on ice, what is the
biggest difference in the two sports?
Hockey is a contact and collision sport at a
constant fast pace. You have to react quick and keep your head
up since the other team is trying to hit and hurt you. Baseball
is also intense but more mentally. The pace is slower so you
need a different focus.
Sixth Inning - Will you practice with the
baseball team this winter during hockey season?
I’ll try to get out there as much as possible.
It’s tough because the start of baseball is around playoff time
for hockey. During hockey season, I’ll try to hit a few times a
week to get my swing down. Our indoor practice facility for
baseball is also next door to the hockey rink. I get in baseball
moods where I need to swing the bat.
Seventh Inning - Do your baseball teammates
attend hockey games? Do your hockey teammates come out to
Baseball guys come to the hockey games because
it’s a fun thing to do at UVM and is well attended by a lot of
students. A lot of the hockey guys come out to the baseball
games. It is interesting that many of my baseball teammates work
at the hockey games on the event staff and many of my hockey
teammates are on the Centennial Field grounds crew from the
spring through the Lake Monsters season in the summer.
Inning - Do you have any down time during the year?
Not too much. I had only about nine days of
winter break this year. While the hockey guys take a break
after the season, I go straight to baseball. Playing sports and
doing schoolwork takes up all my time. But that’s the way I’ve
always done it. It’s a lot of fun.
Ninth Inning - Who is your favorite pro hockey
player and your favorite pro baseball player? Why?
For hockey I’d have to say Tampa Bay’s Martin St.
Louis, who is a UVM alum, or New Jersey’s Zach Parise, who is
also from Minnesota and went to the same prep school (Shattuck
St. Mary’s) as me. For baseball, I also have two, Justin
Morneau of the Twins, who played hockey growing up, and Boston’s
Dustin Pedroia. I’m not a lot bigger than St. Louis and Pedroia
and it shows that little guys can play the game at a high
Extra Innings - If you could play professionally
in one sport or the other, which would you choose?
My goal has always been to play in the
but now I’m going to have to say Major League Baseball. I get
chills whenever I walk in to a major league ballpark. I played
at Fenway Park last year in the New England College All-Star
Game, and it was big thrill for me. Especially playing in left
field in front of the Green Monster. The Hockey East semifinals
and championship game are also in Boston at the TD Banknorth
Garden. It would be pretty neat to be able to play at both
Fenway and the Garden.
What hurts more, getting hit with a puck or
It always depends on the spot you get hit and in hockey we
wear a lot of pads. I would say a baseball hurts more, but the
pitcher will never be able to tell.
Hockey is a rough sport played with a lot of emotion compared
to the slower pace of baseball. Is it tough to stay mellow in
It's tough at times because you can't go out and hit someone
like you can in hockey. It is also too hard to play baseball
uptight and mad, so I try to let stuff go. Baseball is the
perfect sport after a long, tough hockey season.
(head shot courtesy of University of Vermont)
(hockey action shot by Thom Kendall)
(baseball action shot by