On June 5th, 2002, the Milwaukee Brewers selected right handed pitcher Tim Dillard in the 34th round of the MLB Draft. On that day an odyssey began, one that still continues now nearly 14 years later for the well-traveled product of Itawamba Community College and son of former major leaguer Steve Dillard. Outside of a couple of stints totaling eight games (and 9.1 scoreless innings) for the independent Lancaster Barnstormers in Pennsylvania and a hitch in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2014, Dillard's journey has been entirely with the Brewers organization.
Now 32, Tim has played with nine Brewers' affiliates in thirteen seasons and even enjoyed an extended time in the big leagues, something only three other players drafted in the 34th round in 2002 can say they've accomplished. Dillard was modestly successful during his time in The Show, appearing in 73 games from 2008-2012 and posting a 4.70 ERA and 4.13 FIP in 84.1 innings. He struck out 62 batters against 29 walks and held opponents to a 52.4% ground ball rate.
B.R.E.W.E.R.S.— Tim Dillard (@DimTillard) December 20, 2015
I'm back baby!!#Season14
It's been nearly four years since the now-sidearm hurler has appeared in the majors, however, and even at that time his 86.8 MPH fastball was less than intimidating to big league hitters. Dillard has bounced mostly between AA and AAA over the past three seasons and posted a 5.50 ERA in 54.0 innings for AAA Colorado Springs (though for what it's worth, that number was just 1.72 in 31.1 innings as a reliever) in 2015. He did sign another minor league deal for 2016, though given the rebuilding Brewers' youth movement at the major league level it's probably a long-shot that Tim gets another chance at the big leagues with the Brewers in the near future.
Fortunately, there is perhaps a new role that the Brewers could consider utilizing Tim Dillard in. Now former radio broadcaster Joe Block has accepted a job in Pittsburgh, leaving a vacancy in the radio booth for a part-time announcer while Jeff Levering moves into the number two slot behind 82 year old Bob Uecker. Tim Dillard could be the perfect fit to slot into the part-time role while allowing him to cut his teeth and eventually take over for Uecker when he does finally decide to hang 'em up.
#IShouldntBragBut I am just 1 science class away from my Associate's Degree.— Tim Dillard (@DimTillard) October 22, 2015
Though by his own admission he does not possess the desired educational requirements that the Brewers seek for the position, Dillard's gregarious personality is exactly what Milwaukeeans will need following the inevitable departure of our beloved Ueck. We've become accustomed to hearing self-deprecating stories about the toils of life as an unspectacular baseball player and have been spoiled by a quick wit and dry humor for nearly a half-century now. No one can truly replace Mr. Baseball (who was originally hired by the team as a scout following his playing career and failed miserably), but the least that the Brewers can do is to try and find someone in that same vein to keep us entertained for a few hours each night.
Tim's antics have helped earn his a significant cult-following among the fans and he has over 4,300 followers on his Twitter @DimTillard. Perhaps he is most famous for explaining the importance of IMPLATS to us while impersonating Tim Kirkjian on ESPN, but to say that Tim was a flash in the pan wouldn't be doing him justice. His YouTube channel is full of hilarious videos dating back several years, including his terrific series of Dubsmashes and an impersonation of Harry Caray from spring training in 2010.
Of course Dillard is more than just a funny man and with 14 years of experience playing professionally, he certainly knows the ins-and-outs of the game. He has written an excellent blog detailing his life in the minor leagues that can be found at www.dimtillard.wordpress.com. Tim has demonstrated that he is quite skilled with prose and has appeared on camera and been a radio guest numerous times in both humorous and more serious arenas, such as this appearance last year on "Faith in the Zone" on 105.7 FM in Milwaukee.
Though Dillard doesn't have any specific play-by-play experience, neither did Uecker when the Brewers' hired him back in 1970. Working in Levering's part-time role from last season on the trips that Bob doesn't join the team would allow Tim to get his feet wet in broadcasting and hone his craft before potentially taking over for Uecker on a full-time basis down the road. This part-time gig could perhaps even allow Dillard to continue pitching for the organization in some capacity while giving him a path for a post-playing career role with the Brewers. It would definitely be a mistake for the organization to allow someone as popular with the fans as Tim Dillard to ride off into the sunset when his playing days are over.
Tim Dillard is a down to earth guy and a realist who has said that he's thankful just to be pitching in affiliated ball, let alone trying to get back to the big leagues. He won't be able to pitch forever, and given the fact that he had to wait until after campaigning for a job at the Winter Meetings to get signed for 2016 Tim must surely be cognizant of that fact. The Milwaukee Brewers should definitely be looking to retain him in some capacity following his playing career, and a role in the broadcast booth would be a perfect way to utilize Tim's gift to make people smile and in-depth knowledge of the game. No one wants to admit that Bob Uecker's time in the booth will eventually be coming to a close, but this could be the perfect time to start grooming the perfect candidate in Tim Dillard to become the voice of Milwaukee baseball for the next generation of fans, those who will still looking for a comedic story about life as an average ballplayer while the Brewers are, say, losing a 10-0 game on a warm Tuesday midsummer evening.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs