Thursday, October 10, 2013

2005 Phillies Team Issue #17 Mick Billmeyer CO

As I continue to distract myself from the 2013 postseason, today's post serves to bid farewell to long-time coach Mick Billmeyer and to take a look back at the team's bullpen coaches from the past 40-plus years.  Billmeyer joined Larry Bowa's staff back in 2004 as the "catching instructor" which was a new position within the organization.  He held that position through the 2008 season, and was named the official bullpen coach in 2009.  Billmeyer was stationed in the bullpen until last season, and he moved to the dugout in 2013 to serve as Charlie Manuel's right-hand man.  He wasn't officially the team's bench coach though, as he was once again given the title of catching coach.

Billmeyer was let go last week and the thought is that he'll wind up with another team shortly.  He appeared in all the Phillies team sets since 2004, marking his only Phillies cardboard representation.

The bullpen coach has been a relatively stable position with the Phillies since 1970, and here's the list of the nine men to have answered the bullpen phone over the past 43 seasons:

Doc Edwards 1970-1972
Carrol Beringer 1973-1978
Bob Tiefenauer 1979
Mike Ryan 1980-1995
Joe Rigoli 1996-1997
Ramon Henderson 1998-2008
Roly de Armas 2008
Mick Billmeyer 2009-2012
Rod Nichols 2013

Nichols has not yet been officially retained for the 2014 season.


Steve F. said...

First off, sorry to hear that The Mick has left. (Years ago I was at the ALS Carnival and a friend asked me to buy him one of the $20 grab bags. I opened it for him live on the phone and said to him, "Good news--you got a signed hat from The Mick." He was briefly excited but then asked me, "Wait, you mean Billmeyer, not Mantle, right?" I said, "Sorry." Since then that's what we have called him.)

That's an interesting list, and it has had surprisingly low turnover. I suppose it can't be that hard a position. You don't have to catch them warming up. You really just answer the phone. I suppose you make sure the pitchers haven't wandered off to buy hot dogs and beer (a la the 2012 Red Sox), or aren't exposing themselves as David Cone was accused of doing in 1992. And the Mick got a little glory in 2009 with that MLB Network show, The Pen.

I always feel bad for Ramon Henderson, going into alcohol rehab during the 2008 season and missing being with the WS winner. (Depressing article:

Jim said...

It's strange that the Phillies Media Guide doesn't acknowledge Roly de Armas' short time as the team's bullpen coach. He's not listed in the coaches section, and it was only because I remember him taking over for Henderson that I included him on this list.

Steve F. said...

DeArmas was a guest at a Poppel show a year or so ago and I remember the big pitch for why you should pay $15 or $20 for his autograph was, in the words of Neil Poppel, or whichever Poppel it is who writes his website blurbs: "He's on all the prints" (referring I suppose to the 2008 Dick Perez team print that was a giveaway to 2009 season ticketholders, I guess). Damning with faint praise....

As an aside, I started wondering who was the team's bullpen catcher in 2008 (another guy I don't think I will pay to sign my team ball), and it turns out it was Billmeyer, who served in two roles that year, catching instructor and bullpen catcher. In 2009 when they promoted/shifted Billmeyer to bullpen coach, they named Tim Gradoville the new bullpen catcher. However, on or just before Opening Day 2009, they shifted him to be a minor league coach and moved Jesus Tiamo in that job, which he still holds.

Gradoville, BTW, was a September call-up in 2006 but didn't play in a major league game, so he had prior experience with almost being a major leaguer. It must have been frustrating for him! He has a few Phillies cards, including in the 2007 Topps Chrome set as an autograph-only card.

Speaking of bullpen catchers for the Phillies, some do achieve glory:,1723602