|Organization:||University of Illinois-Chicago|
Les Miller was awarded the 1974 ABCA/Wilson Lefty Gomez Award for his contributions to the game of baseball.
Miller, who was hired as the University of Illinois-Navy Pier's first head baseball coach in 1949, built the foundation for the current program during his tenure with the university and is the team's all-time winningest coach with 509 career victories. His teams amassed 10 Chicagoland College Baseball League Championships and six CCBL tournament titles during his tenure.
During his post-coaching career, Miller stayed close to University of Illinois-Chicago athletics as the founder of the UIC Athletic Alumni Club. He served as the organization's president for over 20 years.
Miller was elected to the UIC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991. In 1999, the Athletic Department re-named the home of the baseball team Les Miller Field to leave a permanent legacy honoring his achievements and commitment to UIC. In February of 2006, Miller was inducted into the Navy Pier Hall of Fame.
Miller, who was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame in 1981, received a variety of awards during his coaching days. In 1976, Miller was presented as the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Man of the Year. Four years later that award's name was changed to the IHSBCA Les Miller Man of the Year Award in his honor.
In addition to his on-field coaching and instruction, Miller was an innovator by forming camps and clinics for coaches and umpires. In 1951, he originated and conducted the University of Illinois-Chicago Baseball Coaching and Umpiring Clinics, recognized as the first baseball clinics for coaches and umpires in the country.
Miller was a standout athlete in his own right, winning eight varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball at Belleville Township High School. He turned down professional baseball offers after high school to attend the University of Illinois, where he stayed until enlisting in the Army. Miller returned to complete his coursework at Illinois and played three years on the baseball team, where he helped the Illini to the 1947 and 1948 Big Ten titles.
Named after the great Lefty Gomez, this annual award is presented to an individual who has distinguished himself among his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally and internationally. The Lefty Gomez Award is sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods.