Mallards Alumni Q & A: Adam Mills (UNC-Charlotte)

A 2007 eighth round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox, Mills pitched for the Lowell Spinners in the NY-Penn League (Rookie) last summer, posting a 3-1 record and 2.04 ERA in 35.1 innings. A year prior, he had arguably the most impressive senior season at UNC-Charlotte in the program’s history. Mills finished atop the NCAA in ERA (1.01) and wins (14), and was sixth in strikeouts (141), earning a spot among two other finalists for the Roger Clemens Pitcher of the Year Award. The right-hander was equally impressive during his time in Madison. He pitched two seasons for the Mallards (2005, 06), compiling an 8-7 record and 1.88 ERA in 144 innings that included an astounding 115 strikeouts and only 21 walks. In a phone interview from his Charlotte, NC home, Mills took time from his busy off-season schedule to share insights about life in Minor League Baseball.

What did you learn in your first year of professional baseball?

“Honestly, thanks to the experience I had in playing for the Mallards, I was very prepared to handle my first experience in the minor leagues. Life in the Northwoods League is very similar to that of professional baseball because you’re always on the road, there’s rarely a day off, and the teams are very competitive. Playing in Madison was the best baseball decision I’ve ever made.”

Have any family-friendly stories to share?

(laughs) At Lowell we’re only given 20 game-used baseballs to sign and hand out between the 15 of us, so you can imagine how high in demand these items are. In order to level the playing field, one time we set up a cup near the bullpen pitching mound and had youngsters attempt to toss quarters into the cups from five feet away to receive one of the signed baseballs. Well, before we knew it, quarters were flying from every direction and parents were wondering why their children were asking for loose change. In the end, over 300 quarters were lying on the mound and the team ended up donating the money to a local charity and gave all of the kids free tickets to a future game!

What are your favorite memories from playing in Madison?

I’ll never forget the fans. They were so supportive and made all of us feel very much at home. The fun we had in the dugout also stands out in my mind. We used to cut the bottoms of our paper drinking cups and stick them on the tops of each others caps with bubblegum. One time we stuck it onto Coach C.J.’s hat and he didn’t notice it the entire inning he coached from the third-base box. We baseball players sometimes find the weirdest things to be the funniest. (laughs)

Any advice to future Mallards?

Just enjoy the experience while it lasts. I would give anything to play one more season in Madison and relive the support exuded by the fans, coaches, host families, and the entire staff. Take in every moment because when it’s over, it’s over! I’d like to thank everyone who made my stay in Madison so exciting and memorable.