The rarest of birthdays and a rumour about a hockey jersey could be on a collision course for a former principal of Belmont Secondary.
Ray Miller, who officially turns 15 on Feb. 29, is part of that tiny percentage of people, 0.07 to be precise, who were born in a leap year. Miller had only met one person with a birthday on the same day, a student from his time at Spectrum Secondary. That changed a couple of years ago, however, after a chance encounter with another leap year baby while Miller was waiting in the lineup for the ferry to Port Angeles.
“This big burly American border guard was checking our vehicle and said, “This is crazy, I can’t believe this,’” Miller recalled. He told Miller that although he had been working for 20 years, he had never checked anyone with a birthday on Feb. 29. “Then he finds out I was born on Feb. 29 and somebody in the car in front of us was born on that day as well.”
Miller approached the other driver and had his picture taken with the man’s son, who was 14, or as Miller noted, 3.5 years old in leap years.
“I get asked all the time if I’ve ever met someone with the same birthday, but I’ve only met two people. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
He’s also often asked what he does to celebrate on the three years where there’s no Feb. 29. “I jump up right at midnight,” he said. “and when I land, it’s March 1.”
Miller has fond memories of a special birthday four years ago when the students at Belmont Secondary baked 56 cakes to commemorate the event.
“It was a big surprise. I was overwhelmed and delighted. I got to cut the cakes and hand out slices to the students while they all wished me a happy birthday.”
Although someone recently approached the News Gazette about doing a story on Miller because they heard he was getting a jersey from the Vancouver Canucks for his birthday, it was news to him.
He had contacted nhl.com recently to ask that they forward his idea to the Toronto Maple Leafs, he explained.
The Canucks were playing in Toronto on Feb. 29 and he wanted to suggest doing a special tribute for fans born in leap years.
He ventured that what’s happened since could be the result of how conversations sometimes take on new life as the story gets passed from one person to another along the chain.
Miller has been a lifelong Leafs fan ever since his sister helped him fill in a coupon from the back of a cereal box in 1967 when he was six. “I got a poster of Davey Keon, my favourite player,” Miller said. “Ironically, that was the last time Toronto won the Cup.” The fact Eddie Litzenberger, who won three Stanley Cups with Toronto in the 1960s, was his father’s cousin, is another meaningful connection to the team for Miller. Efforts to reach the Vancouver Canucks were not successful, but that won’t faze Miller one way or the other.
He’ll keep busy with gardening and milling creative woodwork projects, activities he’s found much more time for since he retired a couple of years before his 15th birthday.