Pinnacle's Roy Muller keeps his head high as the number of surgeries rises
April 12, 2018 by Andre Simms, Arizona State University
Having an emergency appendectomy at age 14 is unusual. Going under the knife over 50 times after that is unparallelled.
Pinnacle head baseball coach Roy Muller has had so many surgeries in his life it’s hard to keep track, but that hasn’t kept him away from doing what he loves.
Muller always put his health on the backburner as a player and as a coach even as far back as that appendectomy.
“They had to come get me off the football field because I came back too soon and the incision opened.”
As he got older that mentality didn’t change. Muller played in games after surgery and after getting in to coaching continued to tailor the operations around baseball.
“Most of them I would try to do in the summertime, so I would never miss the regular season.” Muller said.
That attitude has proved to be beneficial and costly to Muller’s life. While he appreciates every moment he’s spent on a baseball field, he acknowledges the fact that they haven’t come without a cost.
“It got to a point where I said, ‘well now I can’t do that’, but I’ve chosen that route,” Muller said. “I’m probably not as healthy as I would’ve been if I had done them when I was supposed to have them because I’ve usually waited until there wasn’t something in baseball going on.”
Doctors did their best to intervene over the course of decades, but Muller credits his experience in athletics to keep him mentally sharp.
Muller didn’t need a doctor to tell him when to stop. He had set a barometer for himself.
“I actually did say in the ‘90’s if I had more surgeries than years, I had to get out. And that was I think on my 23rd.” Muller said laughing. “Obviously I didn’t get out.”
After 38 seasons at the helm of Paradise Valley High School and over 40 years spent in baseball, Muller stepped away from the game in 2014.
After taking a year to get “healthier” as he puts it, Muller was on his way to help out one of his assistants when his situation changed.
“I was on my way that day to go help him (Mullers former assistant Alex Murphy, the head coach at Apache Junction),” Muller said. “The day I was going to help, Pinnacle called me nine days before the season started.”
Nine days of prep proved to be enough for a successful first season under Muller. The Pioneers won 19 games with him in charge. Just like that despite a myriad of surgeries, he was coaching once again.
Nowadays Muller uses a golf cart to get around the field at practice and when he’s not driving uses a fungo bat as his cane. Despite the pain he’s still in, his love for the game makes it so he can’t stay away.
Although he is the head coach, he realizes that he can’t do it all by himself and that’s where his assistants come into play.
Former professional baseball player Matt Grott is one of Mullers assistants and serves as the pitching coach. Grott, who’s worked with Muller over the past few years can’t say enough about Muller’s passion for the game.
“To me it’s breathtaking,” Grott said while getting choked up. “The man loves this game so much and loves these kids so much.”