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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Mick Billmeyer spent nine seasons in the minors, made AAA; Then made the bigs as a bullpen catcher

Mick Billmeyer didn't make the majors the way he'd originally hoped - or played nearly a decade to achieve, The Quad-City Times wrote.

But, in 1995, he still made it - as as the Angels' bullpen catcher.

"It's allowed me to live out what I dreamed about for years," Billmeyer told The Times, calling the season one he'd never forget. "I'm in the big leagues. It's a great job."

Billmeyer soon got used to that role, serving in a major league bullpen for well over a decade with three different clubs, the Angels, Phillies and Tigers.

Before that, Billmeyer played. His playing career spanned nine seasons. He briefly made AAA.

Billmeyer's career in baseball began in 1985, taken by the Orioles in the second round of the June secondary draft. Billmeyer was also credited as Mickey Billmeyer and by his given name, Michael Billmeyer.

He started with the Orioles at rookie Bluefield. He hit .321 in 27 games. He then made single-A Hagerstown for 1986, and then stayed at single-A over four more seasons.

Billmeyer moved to the Rangers system for 1987, 1988 and 1989, then the Angels at single-A Quad City for 1990.

He saw 76 total games in 1991 between high-A Palm Springs and AA Midland. That May, Billmeyer had his second of two brushes with major league pitching, catching Fernando Valenzuela in a rehab game. He'd earlier caught Nolan Ryan in a spring 1989 game.

"This is great, something you'll always remember," Billmeyer told The Los Angeles Daily News after catching Valenzuela. "I can tell my son about it."

Billmeyer made his one brief appearance at AAA in 1992, nine games at AAA Edmonton. He went six for 25. Billmeyer then rounded out his career in 1993, with independent Rochester.

By 1994, he'd started his new career as a bullpen catcher with the Angels. He stayed in that role through at least 1996. He moved to the Phillies in 2000 as minor league catching coordinator and moved up to bullpen catcher in 2004 and then to the Tigers in 2014. He's last credited with the Tigers in 2017.

In 2008, The Allentown Morning Call featured Billmeyer and his style of encouraging words and a positive attitude. Humor, too.

"You could be having your worst day or your best day and he treats us the same," pitcher Mike Zagurski told The Morning Call of Billmeyer. "He's always in a good mood."

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,041
Made the Majors:1,342-33.2%
Never Made Majors:2,699-66.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:547
10+ Seasons in the Minors:333

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