Friday, February 5, 2010
#484) BILL PULSIPHER
Bill Pulsipher was selected by the New York Mets in the second round of the free agent draft on June 3, 1991. It was his first step in fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a major league baseball player. "It's all I ever wanted to be," Pulsipher said, "I love to watch it and talk about it." Bill was part of the trio of superb pitching prospects (Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, and Paul Wilson) that were being billed by the Mets as "Generation K". It appeared that the young hurlers would turn around the fortunes of the franchise. "Pulse" was an exciting free spirit that brought his passion to the game. "I have always had the image of being the big-mouth, the hot shot," he explained, " That's the way I come across. I look a certain way. I wear baggy clothes and stuff, but that doesn't have anything to do with what I do on the baseball field. I'll work as hard as anybody." Pulispher made his major league debut on June 17, 1995 at Shea Stadium. The young left-hander had been the first of the three to reach New York. His rookie season finished with a 5-7 record and 3.98 ERA. Actually that season was cut three weeks short in September when the prized prospect was diagnosed with a ligament strain in his valuable left elbow. It was a foreshadow of things to come. Pulsipher would receive dreadful news at the beginning of the 1996 season. Before opening day an MRI determined that he had torn the ligament and would need season-ending surgery. "It's the worst thing that has ever happened to me," he would say at the time, "But, I am going to be the same guy that I was."
A long rehabilitation followed the elbow surgery. In April of 1997 he was finally ready to take the mound and begin the process of returning to New York. Bill suffered another problem while with the Mets' Triple-A Norfolk Tides. The once confident pitcher was overcome with clinical anxiety that finally was treated with medication. "The Bill Pulsipher everyone knew, I knew, was gone forever." he would share in a 2005 interview, "It's taken me all of the eight years since to figure that out. I've spent all that time learning the hard way that I am one of the thousands, probably millions, of Americans who live with clinical depression and/or anxiety. I've learned that using a prescription such as Prozac or Paxil is not a sign of weakness, but of self-understanding and strength."
Pulsipher would make it back to the New York Mets for the start of the 1998 season. It was not a good one for the once promising pitcher. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Mike Kinkade on July 31, 1998. In a strange turn of events the Mets found themselves in need of a left-handed pitcher coming into the 2000 season. Bill was brought back to the Mets when the Brewers returned him in a trade to New York for Luis Lopez on January 21, 2000. It would be a short stay that ended on June 2nd that same year when he was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Lenny Harris. Bill left baseball after being released by the Columbus Clippers in 2002. He returned to his home in Port St. Lucie, Florida and for a short time was being paid eight dollars an hour as a groundskeeper for the St. Lucie Mets.
Bill was determined to return to pitching and in truth had never left it. As of 2009, in the 12 seasons that have passed since his major league debut, Pulsipher has played for at least 15 minor-league teams in nine leagues at seven levels. He has played in five different countries. Bill explained, "The big thing that has brought me back quite a few times is just letting my kids at least know what their father did and who their father was for such a large period of his life."
In a July 2004 interview Bill was asked if he still followed the Mets. "Yeah, I grew up a Mets fan. That's my baseball team regardless of who I am playing for." Pulsipher stated, "When I am done playing baseball, I will be a Mets fan again."
Bill Pulsipher signed his card in the set for my friend Noel when the Lobos de Arecibo faced the Indios de Mayaguez in a Puerto Rican Winter League game on November 18, 2009.