For a very long time now, collecting and trading baseball cards has been a popular hobby among all age groups. It's a form of fellowship, which enables a fan to identify with his or her favorite team.
Jeff Miller, like many baby boomers as youngsters, collected baseball cards.
A native of the New York City area, he rooted for the underdog Mets - and not the Yankees.
Back in 1969, the Amazin' Mets, as they were called then, were the darlings of the Major League Baseball world, especially after besting the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 in games in the October Classic.
During that time period, the big, bad Bronx Bombers struggled to many people's delight. But this was the pre-George Steinbrenner era. Things would get a lot better for the Yanks.
Miller probably had never heard of Steinbrenner but then the future Yankee owner wouldn't become widely well-known to the public until the early 1970s.
By that time, though, Miller was gone.
You see, the 20-year-old Miller was shot to death, along with three other students, by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. There is a well-publicized photograph of him facedown in a pool of blood with a young girl kneeling and crying out at his side.
Perhaps you've seen the photo?
Richard Nixon did, and, according to author Curt Smith ("Long Time Ago"). it made an impression on the President of the United States.
"The picture of the girl kneeling above the dying student, it doesn't leave you," said Nixon in a conversation with Smith.
A year before Kent State, Miller was a student at Michigan State in East Lansing. During the summer of 1969, he was a cab driver in NYC, and no doubt followed the Mets in their drive to win the National League pennant.
This was the Mets' team of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Tommy Agee, Donn Clendenon, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Nolan Ryan, etc.
Gil Hodges was the skipper.
In early August - about the time Miller, who also enjoyed rock music and playing the drums, attended the Woodstock Festival - the Mets were almost 10 games out of first place but on the verge of winning 38 of their next 49 to take over first place on Sept. 10.
Two weeks later, the Mets clinched the NL East tile, then followed that up with a sweep of the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs, and finally a WS triumph, the franchise's first-ever, over the Orioles.
While the year 1969 was a banner one for the Mets, it was overall a sad time for Miller as his parents divorced.
In early 1970, Miller transferred to Kent State, and that spring, the Mets began defense of their world championship.
On April 30, Nixon announced to the American people in a televised speech that an excursion into Cambodia from South Vietnam was made by the armed forces of the United States.
Many people were upset with this so-called "endless war" policy in the White House, and consequently there was student unrest nationwide.
In Ohio, the Guard was ordered to help restore order on many universities around the state, including Kent State.
On the day of the shootings, Miller, about 5-foot-5 in stature, is easily identifiable in many of the crowd photos taken. He was wearing a red cowboy shirt and a bandana on his head.
Miller's also shown flipping off the ONG - but then again many of his classmates and others were doing the same. On the whole, though, it was a relatively peaceful assembly on that sunny spring day at Kent State until....well, you know the rest of the tragic story.
According to later reports, Miller was shot from a distance of about 265 feet. Also killed during 13 seconds of gunfire were Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder and Sandy Scheuer. Nine other students were wounded and survived.
One, Dean Kahler, was paralyzed from the waist down.
In the aftermath, eight guardsmen were indicted but none were ever convicted. A Gallup poll taken at the time suported the ONG's actions of shooting unarmed students, and many Americans believed that more students should have been gunned down.
According to The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall USA website, 24 American servicemen were killed on May 4, 1970. Of those casualties, two died in Cambodia on that day.
Life of course continued on in the United States and the rest of the world.
The New York Mets were off on Monday, May 4. The following day, they began a three-game series with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. A young Nolan Ryan pitched and lost a 4-0 decision for the home team.
That year, the Mets had another good season but not a championship one as they finished third in the NL East behind the division-winning Pittsburgh Pirates.
And, since 1971, thanks to the efforts of Kent State survivor Alan Canfora, an annual memorial service and ceremony has been held on the Kent State campus for Krause, Schroeder, Scheuer, and Miller - the Mets fan and baseball card collector.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org