A few weeks ago, Dinged Corners made a post about 1950 Bowman. Since I didn't own any of this set, I had commented on the post that I'd have to see if I could get a card from the set. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found this card.
1950 Bowman - Billy DeMars #252Well, maybe you can't imagine my surprise and delight. DeMars had a 3-year major leage career, from 1949 through 1951. I was born in October 1951, so his entire playing career was before I was born. He was a 3rd baseman and shortstop who hit .237 in 211 at bats.
So why the excitement? After a few more years playing in the minors, he became a minor league manager from 1958 to 1968. But, I best know Billy DeMars as the Phillies hitting coach from 1969 to 1981. That was the period when Mike Schmidt (my favorite player of all time) played for the Phillies and they won their first World Series in 1980.
But even better. I get an opportunity to tell my Billy DeMars story. In March of 2006, my good friend Brian and I went to spring training in Florida. When we weren't going to games (we saw 3 in the 4 days we were there) we visited as many ball parks as we could. When we visited the Blue Jays field, the place was open and we wondered in and took some photos on the field. As we were leaving, a guy came up to us and asked if we were Phillies fans. This was a reasonable guess as we were both wearing Phillies garb. He said that Billy DeMars was on the field giving his son some batting tips. Would we like to meet Billy? Sure we said.
That's Billy in the middle, Brian on the left and me on the right. Billy was very friendly and kindly posed for the photo. The best part was his story of how he straightened out Mike Schmidt's swing and turned him into one of the best home run hitters ever.