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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Bill Ballou had patience, calming effect as minors coach

Bill Ballou 1990 Utica Blue Sox coaches card

Bill Ballou liked serving as a minor league pitching coach better than his offseason job, as a physical education teacher in New York, he told The Battle Creek Enquirer in April 1999.

The Astros were glad to have him, for his ability to relate to young pitchers, Houston minor league pitching coordinator Dewey Robinson told The Enquirer.

"What I like most about Bill is his patience and calming effect he has on young pitchers," Robinson told The Enquirer. "For a lot of kids, it's their first full season of pro baseball and they go through a series of adjustments. Bill gets kids to relax and trust him."

Ballou worked in his summer minor league pitching coach job for years, all after his own stint playing in the minors. 

Ballou's long career in baseball began in 1957, signed by the Yankees as a native of Oceanside, N.Y.

He saw two games that year at low-D Kearney, then seven at Class D Auburn in 1958. He returned in 1961 to Class C St. Cloud with the Cubs. 

He threw a complete-game six-hitter there in July 1961, in a game where teammate Lou Brock scored twice. Overall, Ballou went 10-4, with a 3.37 ERA at St. Cloud.

Ballou continued playing until 1964. He twice made it to AA, at Amarillo in 1963 and Fort Worth in 1964.

He then went in to teaching, something he continued to do in 1999, The Tribune wrote. He got back into pro ball in 1979 as a scout for the Cubs, then as a short-season coach in 1983.

Ballou arrived with the White Sox in 1987, as a coach in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He arrived at short-season Utica in 1988 and stayed through at least 1991.

By 1995, he was at single-A Hickory and 1997, with the Astros at short-season Auburn. In 1998, he served as pitching coach at single-A Quad Cities and watched over Astros first-rounder Brad Lidge.

"This league will be a good test for him," Ballou told The Quad-City Times that July. "He should be able to compete here, and he won't be in over his head."

Ballou continued with the Astros through at least 2007. He spent 2000 to 2004, five seasons, as pitching coach with the organization's New York-Penn League entry, then 2005 to 2007 as pitching coach at rookie Greeneville.

Bill Ballou 1990 Utica Blue Sox coaches card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,627
Made the Majors:1,248-34.4%
Never Made Majors:2,379-65.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:520
10+ Seasons in the Minors:307

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