I’m really sad this morning to read about Dontrelle Willis being released from yet another team, this time the Philadelphia Phillies. I’ve been following this kid since his 2003 debut with the Florida Marlins. He was just so much fun to watch, with that wild and goofy wind-up he had and always a big smile. I’d never seen anything like it before and probably never will again.
He was dynamite back then! And I wasn’t the only one who was enthralled with the kid. He was named the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year. And that wasn’t all he did in 2003. In game 4 of the 2003 NL Division Series he hit 3 for 3 (one was a triple) and scored a run, this all being done as a “pitcher”, and then beat the socks off my home team, the San Francisco Giants. The Marlins won the 2003 World Series, and I’ll never forget Dontrelle Willis in that series.
Dontrelle was born and raised in Oakland and raised by his very strong, tough and intelligent mother, Joyce. She was not only a commercial welder, working on such bridges as the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge, but she was also a softball catcher and avid Oakland A’s fan. This was the defining influence on Dontrelle that propelled him all the way to the Major Leagues. His dad bailed out when he was a toddler. I don’t know this, but I think they probably had a pretty tough time during those early years. We know one thing though. He loved his mama!
I’m sorry the “D-Train’s” career has been de-railed again. In December, 2011 the Phillies signed him to a one year million dollar deal with expectations that he’d be a bullpen pitcher. He was released yesterday after just three spring training appearances.
It’s been a wild and rocky road. Will he be back? I don’t know. But I know one thing. Dontrelle Willis provided me with some of my most memorable baseball experiences and I hope he does come back, though at 40 years old it’s unlikely.
To Dontrelle Willis: Best Wishes. I wish we could have gotten to know you better kid!
- Phillies Release Dontrelle Willis (tracking.si.com)
- Dontrelle Willis is hurting and “horse(bleep)” (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Dontrelle Willis signs one-year contract with Phillies (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)