Celebrity Drive: Kevin Millar, MLB Network


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Quick Stats: Kevin Millar, MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” co-host
Daily Driver: 2016 Shelby F-150 (Kevin’s rating: 9 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Los Angeles to Florida
Car he learned to drive in: Datsun 300ZX
First car bought: 1998 Chevy Stepside

When MLB Network host and former first baseman Kevin Millar finds something he likes, he’s apt to evangelize it to his baseball buddies. That includes when he bought his new home and later when he heard about a Shelby F-150.

He got his major league buddies Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz to buy the vehicle with him.

“I had a 2012 Ford Raptor that I loved and it was 4 years old, and I’m such a car lover, so I go bob and weave every three years. And then the Shelby started saying they would bring out a truck in 2016. We ordered four of them,” Millar tells Motor Trend. “Six months later we all have different colors, but all the same truck, and they only made 500 of them.”

When he moved to his new neighborhood in Austin, Millar also got the three friends to buy a home on the same street. “I was the first one here, so I’ve been recruiting guys to come down to ‘Pleasantville,’ I call it,” Millar says, laughing. “It’s pretty funny. They’re all pitchers. I’m the only position player, so I always joke, ‘I’m the only athlete on the street,’ but really I’m not. I think we’re going to have a heck of a softball team in about 10 years.”

Millar gives the Shelby F-150 a 9 out of 10. “The reason it’s not 10 — it’s the first truck with 700 hp, but the torque is not quite as much as I thought it was,” he says. “Other than that, I love it. It’s a great truck. It’s basically their version of the Raptor that’s not EcoBoost.”

He likes how it handles and the suspension it has, for a truck is “remarkable.” “The look — it’s beefy. It’s got a 4-inch lift already on it,” he says. “It’s fast. If there’s one thing I was disappointed on, was just the acceleration immediately, but it is truly an awesome truck.”

Millar also likes that it has a lot of legroom in the back since he has four kids. For more torque, though, Millar acknowledges that perhaps an electric car is the way to go. “I’ve never been in that Tesla until two months ago. A buddy came down and said, ‘You’ve got to drive this.’ The g-forces in that, I had to stop accelerating because it felt like I was in a spaceship. Unbelievable. I might need to go to an electric truck and we need to come out with the first electric truck,” he says, with a laugh.

Living in Texas, pickup trucks seem de rigueur. “It’s like we think we’re really cool, I think we need trucks. I don’t ranch; I live on a lake. I just got rid of the Z06 Corvette; that was the 650 hp, 650 pounds of torque, which was the funnest car I’ve ever had. And Lexus just came out with this LC 500, which is their version of a sporty car, so I went and got that. Kind of mad that I got rid of the Vette, but it’s a really a cool car and it’s got 500 hp.”

2017 Lexus LC 500

Rating: 9

Millar got the Lexus a few months ago. “As far as a vehicle right now, it’s the closest to a 10 as you can get,” he says. “Obviously not being the fastest on the road, but handles great, comfort. It’s got a great look to it. I think they nailed it.”

Millar gives it a 9 because of its price point. “Sticker is $102,000. So it’s just right there if you wanted that tick above but yet you don’t want to go into the $150,000 vehicle, which is what the Porsche twin-turbos are,” he says. “Depending on what you’re looking for, it could be a 10. … My buddy just got a twin-turbo. That thing’s unbelievable, the 911. That’s another level of money.”

There’s one feature that seems like it wasn’t well thought out. “The only thing I don’t like about it is the electric start. They have apps now, so you can start it on your app. You can land from an airplane and go to your app and start your vehicle,” he says. “It will stay started for 10 minutes, but as you walk up to your vehicle, it turns off. You’ve got to restart it once you get in. So that’s a little odd.”

1968 Chevrolet Camaro

Rating: 10

Millar likes the 1967 to 1969 Camaros because the body style has a “beefy look” to it. “It’s got a little 350 crate engine that I put in there. Starts everyday. It’s nothing crazy, but it gives you the rumble like it’s a race car,” he says. “It has 2,400 miles on it.”

He had someone put the engine in, which is something Millar wished he knew how to do. “It’s the one thing I failed at in life — I wish I knew how to work on cars,” Millar says, with a laugh. “I’m the oil checker guy and that’s about it. I love washing them! I wash my own cars. I always keep a clean car. It’s something that I’ve done since I was a kid, so I do enjoy that aspect of it.”

The classic Camaro gets a perfect 10 from Millar, most of all for its exclusivity when it’s out and about. “It’s definitely the most talked-about car when you go get gas. One thing about a classic car is you could have $30,000 into it and more people come over and compliment it than if you drove in with a Ferrari,” he says. “It’s really a cool car. It’s fun. You don’t see a whole lot of them. It’s in really good condition.”

But even though it’s in good condition, Millar calls his Camaro a “10-footer.” “It’s beautiful from 10 feet away. It’s not perfect when you get up to it,” he says. “The lines on it aren’t perfect because when you start rebuilding cars like these — the doors have got to match up exactly to be a perfect score. But I would give it a 10 for people’s sight — they love to come over to it and look at it and talk about it.”

When he was growing up, Millar’s aunt had a 1967 Camaro when she was 16, and that car inspired him to one day get his own. “They’ve had that in the family to this day,” passing it down, he says. “… I said, ‘I’m going to get between a ’67-’69 Camaro and I’m going to keep it for my kids.’”

Millar’s idea was to get his own Camaro to let his kids drive when they turn 16. “I asked Uncle Wayne for it and he said he’s keeping it forever, so maybe I’ll have it in the will,” he says, laughing. “I loved it. They used to take me to school in it and I always thought that was the coolest thing in the world.”

Car he learned to drive in

Millar learned to drive in his dad’s late 1970s or early 1980s Datsun 300ZX hatchback around Valencia, California, where he grew up.

“It was a stick shift, so I learned to drive stick at a young age. I was into dirt bikes and go-karts, so I knew how to drive a stick from my dirt bikes. That was a big help,” he says. “These days, kids don’t know how to drive stick shift because it seems like everything’s automatic.”

Millar’s dad let him drive when he was just 14. “I grew up with go-karts from 7 to 12, so I knew how to drive. But we had a little convenience store a mile away from our house and he told me that I can go get some Dr Pepper for the family by myself, obviously illegal, at 14. So I was driving to the grocery store one mile down the road and it was the coolest thing ever,” he says.

Back then the streets were emptier where they lived, so that also made it really easy for a beginner driver. “We lived on a dirt road, our neighbors had horses,” he says. “Back then the roads weren’t paved, almost like a ranch area. You couldn’t hurt anything, but you were learning the left and rights, the brakes. So that’s where I learned. It’s where they shot The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Even though Millar already knew how to ride dirt bikes and go-karts, his dad taught him the basics. “We would drive out there on the dirt road,” he says. “Once you go in there alone, that’s a big difference without your dad next to you. … That was a big deal to drive stick at age 16. No power steering back in the day. … If you’re trying to turn and not moving, you had to have big muscles.”

When Millar turned 16, his own car was not the cool Camaro that his aunt had, but a red 1980 Ford Pinto. “It was the worst car you’ve ever seen, but that’s the way we rolled back then and it was really far away from a 1967 Camaro,” he says.

His mom went to a used car lot and bought the automatic Pinto for him to drive to high school. “It was $1,600. I’ll never forget the sticker price on it,” he recalls. “All my buddies were getting Nissan Sentras, the Supra, these IROCs. All the rich kids had really nice cars, and I got a Ford Pinto.”

A 1978 Ford Pinto is shown here

It was 1988 when he got the old Pinto, which seemed like a relic from another time. “We weren’t well-off by any means, and it was obviously the coolest day of your life getting some keys to your car to drive to school as a junior in high school, but you forgot that it was a Ford Pinto. So I used to get made fun of in the school parking lot,” he says, laughing.

Millar was constantly teased about the Pinto, and its unfortunate reputation. “There was a couple of stories that if you got rear-ended they would explode because the gas tank was in the back. That was the big joke,” he says.

But he had more pressing things to worry about when he got to school in it. “When you would shut it off, it wouldn’t shut off. It would just (makes a puttering sound), it would shake,” he says. “So if the girls were walking by and I had to turn the car off, I would just duck in my steering wheel. I didn’t want anybody to know. This car would shake and rattle for 10 seconds; it wouldn’t shut off. It was embarrassing.”

He got rid of the Pinto after a year when he saved enough money from working at batting cages, as well as getting a little help from his mom, to buy a 1982 Mazda RX-7, which had the license plate “Black Ice.”

“I thought I was so cool,” Millar says. “It had black interior; it was black; there was 60,000 miles on it. I remember paying $3,800. That was my big step — when my senior year came. … It was used, but that’s when I started making the step up. I’m like ‘Aha! Now I’m cool.’ ”

First car bought

Millar was living in Beaumont, Texas, when he bought a black 1998 Chevy Stepside. He had signed with the Florida Marlins, making his way up from the minor leagues.

“Back then it might’ve been $20,000,” he says. “I was able to make $150 a month payments on it.”

He stayed in Texas after going to Lamar University. “I had an apartment and got my first truck. I always took care of my vehicles, always kept them clean. It was my baby,” he says. “… When I got to the big leagues that’s when I went into the utility vehicle — a Yukon.”

The SUV was the vehicle that got Millar to Florida from Texas for the season. “It took 24 hours. So I would load up everything in my truck and then you’d go for the season, for spring training,” he says. “That’s why I ended up buying the truck because you can pack it up with everything, all your equipment and your clothes.”

Millar did that for five years, as well as driving it around during the season, since he couldn’t afford to ship it. “That was $1,000 to ship a truck, so I would just drive it,” he says.

While some cars have an emotional connection for some people, for Millar, it’s not that hard to let cars go. “Every time, to this day when I get rid of a car, there’s always memories in every car, and I’ve gone through probably 15 cars over the years, and they all have a little emotional attachment,” he says. Still, he likes to keep two, three, even four cars at a time. “Every couple years, I like to sniff out something in my price range.”

Favorite road trip

Millar’s favorite road trip was the one he took from Los Angeles to Florida one year. “That drive was 40-some odd hours and that was in that truck. I had driven out to L.A. and stayed out there and waited till spring training,” he says. “That was a pretty cool trip, driving cross country in the truck. … I always enjoy driving, listening to music. It always freed my mind to get ready for the season.”

He always looked forward to these long drives before the season. “You soul-search looking up those roads, especially when you get to Texas, and it’s 13 hours to get out of Texas. From El Paso to Beaumont it’s 1,200 miles. You can close your eyes for eight hours and not hit anything if you wanted to,” he says, with a laugh.

But that particular drive from Los Angeles to Florida was also emblematic of a time in his life when he was just starting out. “Obviously going through California to Arizona to New Mexico. It was the time of your life, that’s what you did and you enjoyed it.”

Splurge car

“My wife, after I got 10 years in the big leagues, she surprised me with a 2007 Porsche twin-turbo, which was $150,000,” Millar says. “They made 2,000 of them that year.”

They were living in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the time. They went out for sushi and when the valet threw him a set of keys and said, “Here’s your car, sir.” And Millar replied, “No, we have a Suburban.”

“It had a big red bow around it and this silver Porsche came driving around and then she said, ‘Merry Christmas.’ It was for Christmas. I cried because I’m like, ‘Who paid for this?’” Millar says, with a laugh. “She thought, ‘I didn’t know if you’re going to be happy or if you’re going to kill me.’ I was happy, of course, and then I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve never spent this much on a car in my life!’”

Millar thought it was “awesome,” though, and kept the car from 2007 to 2011. He got rid of it when he and his wife started having kids and moved to Austin. “It was great. It was the coolest I’d ever driven and owned,” he says. It coincided with his time with the Orioles. “We had that shipped out to Baltimore for the season, so I had that when I played with the Baltimore Orioles.”

Boston Red Sox and the 2004 World Series

At the time Millar helped the Red Sox clinch the World Series in 2004, he was already driving a Hummer H2. “They were cool and fun, and I just got rid of that car a couple years ago, so I had that one probably for a good 10 years,” he says. “I love cars now, I don’t get emotionally attached. I just think they’re fun and there’s so much cool stuff that comes out, so I’m in and out of them.”

Although he didn’t treat himself to a car when they won the World Series, he bought a motorcycle. “In 2004, after we won the World Series, we all bought a couple of these bikes. They were called Thunder Mountains. They were like choppers, a Harley engine,” he says.

Millar was into motorcycles and often rode his 2001 Harley Heritage Softail to Fenway Park. “I used to ride my motorcycle to the field when I was with the Red Sox in Boston — the Harley I still have. I’d ride to the stadium on the pretty days. That one’s tough to get rid of —because you can’t get the value. … If I was to sell it, it’d probably be $7,000 or $8,000. To me the value is more than that.”

MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” Monday to Friday

Millar is the co-host of MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” with Chris Rose, which airs 5 p.m. (Eastern time) on weekdays, as well as on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. (Eastern).

He has a studio at his home in Austin where he broadcasts most of the time. “We have guests that come to the stadium ballpark cams, so the players are our guests and we have an interview everyday,” he says. “A player will be from a stadium and I’ll be here in Austin and my co-host is in Los Angeles, and the MLB network studio is in New Jersey, so you’re shooting from four different locations.”

Getting the on-air gig happened when he left the major leagues. “When I got released in 2009, the network had launched that year, and life’s about timing and so I was asked, ‘Do you want to do some TV?’” Millar recalls. “I flew up there, tried out and did it and loved it and here we are seven years later, we’re doing a show called ‘Intentional Talk.’ … Players love it, fans like it, so we have a lot of fun doing it.”

“Intentional Talk” is one of the few shows on the cable network that airs year-round, even in the off-season. “It’s a lighthearted show,” Millar says. “We do a lot of laughing and making fun of ourselves.”

During the season, the show covers all the games, which includes the day’s hot topics. “Off season, there’s always trades going on; there’s always information going on. Baseball never sleeps,” he says.

This weekend the MLB Network will also air two American League Division games.


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