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Billmeyer enjoys champs' spoils

Funkstown native serving as NL bullpen coach for All-Star Game

Funkstown native serving as NL bullpen coach for All-Star Game

July 13, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

PHILADELPHIA -- In the past, Mick Billmeyer attended Major League Baseball's All-Star celebration as a hired gun.

This time, he is going a part of the cavalry.

Billmeyer has worked two of the All-Star Home Run Derbys on the Monday before the Mid-Summer Classic as the pitcher for Jim Thome and Chase Utley. This time, the Funkstown native will be staying around for Tuesday's game as the National League's bullpen coach.

"This time I get to stay for the whole game," Billmeyer said Sunday via telephone. "I'll get the chance to stay there around the other guys (pitchers from other teams). It will be busier, but it will be fun."

Billmeyer is the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen coach. The Phillies coaching staff, along with selected managers and trainers, will work the game. It is the honor given to the staff of the two teams which reached the last World Series. Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel will manage the National League, while Tampa Bay's Joe Madden will run the American League's representatives.

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Billmeyer was asked to attend the 2004 game with Thome in Houston and Utley at Yankee Stadium last season to pitch to each player in the home run competition. Each player is allowed to choose their own pitcher and Billmeyer had worked with each during daily batting practices.

Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard is participating in tonight's competition at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Billmeyer pitches to him during pregame practice, but he will be in the bullpen this time.

"Ryan is from St. Louis and he is planning to use his summer league coach to get him out on the field," Billmeyer said. "I've been working with him. He has been hitting it out against me all week. I'll only pitch to him if I'm needed."

There will be enough things to keep Billmeyer going this time even if he doesn't pitch.

He started Sunday by working a 10 a.m. baseball clinic held by the Phillies before their 1 p.m. game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After the game, the Phillies All-Star contingent flew to St. Louis to begin baseball's three-day working holiday.

"We will have a workout in the morning and then we'll spend the rest of the day schmoozing," Billmeyer said. "Then on Tuesday, it will be working like we are doing another game."

One aspect Billmeyer said he will enjoy about his trip will be his traveling companion. His father, Fred, will be heading out to St. Louis for the experience.

After the break, the Phillies will be getting back to the work of defending the National League and World Series title. Philadelphia experienced a slow start but is starting to come around.

"For the coaches, it has been the same thing all the time. We want to go out and win games," Billmeyer said. "The beginning of the season for the players was like a World Series tour. They were going places and meeting people and they forgot about the game.

"Then we had some injuries -- we lost pitcher Brett Myers for the season -- and some players didn't start out that well. But we had all those problems and we are still in first place (in the NL East)."

The ability to win has started to pay off for the Phillies and for Billmeyer. Philadelphia's success has allowed him to experience things that others have only dreamed about.

"I never thought I would be part of winning the World Series and that happened," Billmeyer said. "I never thought I'd be in an All-Star Game either, but during the winter I realized that I would be doing that this year because we won the World Series."

It's a cycle Billmeyer could get used to.

"It's fun because it means you have won something," he said.

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