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Sports Then and Now



Through The Eyes of…Bill Artz, Bullpen Catcher 3

Posted on October 17, 2009 by Todd Civin

The following is part of a weekly series called “Through the Eyes of…” In each segment, I share interviews with or stories about those who I view to be the “Good Guys.” The men and women who participate in and are the very fiber that make up the great game of baseball.

“Through the Eyes of…” is a part of my personal crusade to present baseball in all its beauty, splendor, and goodness, instead of through hashing and rehashing all that is broken with our national treasure. TC

Bill Artz, alone in the pen, waiting to warm up a Phillies reliever.

Bill Artz, alone in the pen, waiting to warm up a Phillies reliever.

There is hardly a soul who has ever picked up a leather glove and a hardball, who hasn’t also dreamed of making the journey to the the big leagues. The two travel nearly hand in hand once the sound of rawhide against hardwood is experienced.

And for nearly every child who dreams the dream of playing major league baseball, so too goes the subtle disappointment that comes with the realization that the dream is just that: a dream. They are few and far between, those with the gift, the willingness to work and the dedication necessary to succeed that make it all the way to the Show.

But then there are the nearly chosen few, who don’t make it to the big leagues, but by luck or by circumstance still get to pull up the stirrups next to the big boys.

For 486 consecutive games from Opening Day of 1998 to the call of “wait til next year” in 2000, Bill Artz was privileged enough to put on the uniform of the present World Champion Philadelphia Phillies and catch the likes of Curt Schilling, Randy Wolf, and Mark Portugal in his role as the Bull Pen catcher.

Though not a glamorous position on the hierarchy of the baseball org chart, there is nary  a one of us, that wouldn’t give up doing what we are doing today to experience a cup of coffee or two and maybe a mid game catch with Paul Byrd, Mark Leiter or Vicente Padilla.

Today, Artz owns and operate Big League Floors, a Philadelphia based company that provides residential and commercial floorings services for an eight county area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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