WEST PITTSTON — Time flies. Just ask George Miller.
For the past 61 years, he has been the man in the press box keeping time at most every Wyoming Area football game, and West Pittston High School football games before that.
But now his time, so to speak, is up, he said. Miller’s letter of retirement was read at the most recent Wyoming Area School Board meeting.
“After 61 years at both West Pittston High and Wyoming Area High, I think it’s time to call it a career,” Miller, 83, wrote. “During these years, I only missed seven games, a record that I am proud of. … It’s been a great pleasure that I was associated with the Wyoming Area Sports Program.”
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I made a lot of friends. I got to know a lot of the kids and a lot of the parents.”
Miller said he plans to continue to serve as official scorekeeper for Wyoming Area basketball games.
A life of sports
Miller, of West Pittston, was a longtime Little League umpire and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) official for 25 years in basketball, 33 in football and 53 years in baseball.
“I had to stop, I couldn’t run anymore,” he said.
Still, he is often seen wearing the black-and-white referee stripes.
Miller’s fondest sports memory dates back to when he was a senior at West Pittston High in 1949. The Thanksgiving Day football game pitted the Garden Village Team, which became the Rams several years later, against the Forty Fort High School team. Miller, a 137-pound center and linebacker, was the team captain.
“I intercepted two passes and was tackled both times by my friend Jackie Thomas,” Miller said. “And he intercepted two passes and I tackled him both times.”
He graduated in 1950 and went to work at a grocery store he would later buy from Butch Firestine in 1971. As a bagboy in 1952, Miller was convinced by Firestine to become an umpire in the town’s Little League.
“My boss was one of the organizers and he told me I was going to umpire,” Miller said in a past interview. “So I did.”
Before moving up to the press box to keep time, Miller spent 1952 to 65 as part of the “chain gang,” moving the first-down marker on the sidelines. He also took a turn at calling football and basketball games for 30 years and sponsored a girls softball team. He’s been a staple at almost every high school game.
Miller closed the grocery store in 1989 after larger supermarket chains made it difficult for him to compete. He then was employed as a safety inspector for the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority and he eventually retired.
A familiar face
Nearly everyone in West Pittston knows Miller.
Besides being the tax collector for 14 years, he is a past board member, firefighter and former fire chief of West Pittston Hose Co. No. 1, served as a board member for West Pittston Ambulance and West Pittston Parks and Recreation Board, is a past president of Pittston Kiwanis, a past member of West Pittston Swimming Pool Committee, a member of West Pittston Little League and the Pittston Challenger Organization.
Miller and his wife, the former Lois Havard, have been married for 56 years and have three grown children.
“I’m 83 now and I’ve been in athletics all my life,” he said. “I love it. But it’s time to let the next generation take over.”