A long time member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Tim Dillard certainly loves what he does for a living. You’d be hard pressed to find a player who has more fun playing the game.
Dillard’s personality is a big one. It is without a doubt made for the internet, as can be seen by one quick glance at his Twitter account. He is without a doubt a treasure for the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Recently, Dillard took the time to answer a few questions.
Q: You were drafted back in 2002, it has been a long career so far. What keeps you coming back?
Tim Dillard: “That’s a good question. Actually I was first drafted by the Brewers way back in 2001…so our relationship dates back almost 18 years, and would now be considered legal voting age. And you know, honestly, the biggest reason I try so hard to keep coming back to pitch year after year is that I am probably underqualified to be in any other occupation.”
Q: The organization and fans seem to really like having you around. I am sure that experience helps out a lot with the young pitchers coming through the farm. Do you see yourself as a mentor for the young guys?
Tim Dillard: “Sure. I mean, the word ‘mentor’ makes me sound like an incredibly smart professor.
Now, I wouldn’t say that I’ve had the most amazing career…but I have been around awhile and seen a lot. And since I’ve observed so much, it becomes natural to try and help the younger players.
Mainly by telling boring yet relevant stories, because no one wants to hear me tell a story about myself. But if I share a conversation I witnessed between, let’s say Ben Sheets and Jason Kendall about pitch selection, to me there is baseball wisdom in that. And the young players are more likely to listen.”
Q: With all the experience, have you given any thought to coaching after you call it a career?
Tim Dillard: “Yeah, I’ve thought about it. One of the problems I see is that when most players transition into a coaching role, they’re usually assigned to rookie ball and have to work their way up. Selfishly, and borderline pompously, I would want to start out at Triple A or even the Big Leagues.
Knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I’d be more valuable helping with pitching philosophies at the higher levels than, say, working with mechanical issues at the lower levels. And I suspect most professional teams wouldn’t offer me something like that. But things could change, that’s just how I feel about it at the moment.”
Q: I want to stick with baseball, but switch gears back to the past. Undoubtedly you have seen your share of talent throughout your career, as evidence by your tweet after the Longoria trade. But is there any player that you think should have made the MLB, but never did?
Tim Dillard: “Many names come to mind. But honestly, I’ve been teammates with dozens of guys over the years that were absolutely good enough to play in the Major Leagues. And through the seasons I’ve played against guys on other teams that also deserved that chance.
The baseball call-up is like losing a calculus book in a labyrinth, so many variables. Timing, injuries, trades, a team’s needs, arm freshness, too young, someone else’s arbitration, the position you play, too old, outside opinion, workload, waiver claims…there just isn’t a rational formula.”
Q: I want to move away from baseball for a minute. I, along with many others, am a huge fan of your Twitter account. It’s big enough where Fox Sports had a few months of monthly roundups of your tweets. Was it just downloading an app and letting your personality take over? Did you expect it to become this big?
Tim Dillard: “At the start of 2013, I had zero social media and zero jobs. And after spending most of the last two seasons in the Big Leagues, I ended up in Mexico for Spring Training, and was released after a month.
Next, I found myself in Pennsylvania playing for an Independent team and living in the basement of a host family. It was in this moment, on the phone with my wife Erin, where I heard these words, ‘Tim, you should get a Twitter account.’
In fact, she had to convince me to do it. Because up until that point, most of the ways I had seen Twitter used was negative and unappealing. So with only fun in mind and zero expectations, my first tweet was ‘You’re Welcome World!’
Yes, I am just being myself on Twitter.
And, no, it’s still surprising. In everything I do, I honestly never expect people to care about it or have any interest in it.”
Q: One final question for you. Over the course of your career, you’ve fulfilled the dream and made it to the MLB. You have become an icon on social media. And the Milwaukee fan base adores you. How does all of that compare to your original vision of your career after you were first drafted?
Tim Dillard: “Every player has the same career vision, and that’s to play 10 years in the Show. And for some reason, if this goal is not met, a player can hang his head and feel like a failure.
Just like everyone else, I had the dream. And just like life, my baseball career hasn’t gone the way I thought it would when I was first drafted. But over the years ‘success’ has taken on a new meaning for me. It’s not reaching my goals, or counting awards, or pursuing human praise. I’ve learned to measure success in relationships.
Baseball is a puzzle with many different pieces, not just players and coaches. And to complete the picture it takes much more. There’s clubbies, umpires, fans, bat boys, parking attendants, front office staff, media personnel, stadium security, bus drivers, ticket takers, sponsors, statisticians, groundskeepers, concession stand workers, ushers, and even official scorers.
When I stopped looking inward and started looking outward is when I realized just how special this mosaic was. So to me, building relationships, having conversations, and investing in lives is success.
And knowing myself, if I had gotten to the Big Leagues at a young age and never left…then I wouldn’t have learned these values from the places I’ve been and people I’ve met.
It doesn’t pay as good as 10 years in the Show, but it’s a fulfillment and satisfaction I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
A thank you goes to Tim Dillard for taking the time to talk to me. He is a class act, and certainly a great part of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.