Saturday, November 7, 2015

Billy Masse, Proved Himself - 21

Originally published July 8, 2013
Billy Masse was playing well in August 1993, but he was still frustrated, he told his hometown Hartford Courant.

He was frustrated because he was playing well at AAA Columbus, his second full season there, and he wasn't getting a shot in the majors with the Yankees.

"They told me they don't want to trade me. But they don't want to bring me up. I don't know what the hell's going on," Masse told The Courant. "I feel like I deserve to go up because I've proved myself all year. I feel like I could go up there and perform if I could just get my chance."

The outfielder Masse ended up hitting .316 for the AAA Clippers that year, without seeing the Bronx. He ended up playing in two more seasons there, his last to as a pro. He never did see the majors.

Masse, though, has gone on to remain in the minors, as a coach and manager. He's also spent time as a scout.

Masse's pro career began in 1989, the year after he was selected by the Yankees in the seventh round, out of Wake Forest University. Masse is also known by the more formal Bill Masse.

At Wake Forest, Masse played well enough to make the gold medal-winning 1988 U.S. Olympic team. On the way to the Olympics, Masse hit two home runs in a game against South Korea.

Masse hit the field with the Yankees in 1989, playing at single-A Prince William. He hit .239 in 124 games. He then played 1990 between AA Albany and high-A Fort Lauderdale. At Albany, he hit just .188 over 31 games.

After moving back to Fort Lauderdale from Albany, Masse tried to explain his struggles to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"I guess I am finding out that professional baseball is not always what you think it is. It can be one big setback after another. You have to produce right away, or you're history," Masse told The Sun-Sentinel. "Two years ago I was considered to be one of the top 20 college players in the country. Now, here I am back in A ball."

Masse's bat finally picked up in 1991, back up in Albany. Masse hit .295 over 108 games. He also earned his first trip to Columbus for 1992. At Columbus, he hit .266 in 1992, then that .316 in 1993.

Masse returned to Columbus for 71 games in 1994 and 49 in 1995, but he never made the majors.

His playing career over, Masse went into coaching, first as an assistant at Wake Forest, then in the minors. He served as hitting coach at short-season Vermont in 1997, then got his first managerial job in 1999 with the Expos in the Gulf Coast League.

In 2005, he moved up to AA, managing Trenton. More recently, Masse served as manager at AA San Antonio in 2008, then hitting coach at AAA Buffalo in 2009

In 2004, managing at high-A Tampa, Masse explained his managerial style to The Courant.

"The easiest thing in the world is for a manager to A) just yell at everybody, or B) just sit and watch the game, then go back into his office and say, `This guy's terrible, that guy can't play,'" Masse told The Courant. "No matter who a player is, I'm going to pull for him just the same and find a way to make him a good professional."

In addition to his work in the minors, Masse also owns and instructs at a baseball school back in Connecticut, called Baseball City.

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