Bill Pulsipher was one of the most highly-touted Mets prospects in their history.
The Mets drafted Pulsipher in the second round of the 1991 draft (66th overall). That draft year might bring up some memories as this was the year Brien Taylor was drafted No. 1 by the New York Yankees. Taylor is now known for being one of the biggest MLB draft busts in history.
Unfortunately, as we all have seen so often, highly-touted prospects rarely live up to the hype. Some buckle under the pressure, and some aren’t as good as the scouts thought.
Pulsipher’s minor league career started off as good as could be expected; 35 wins in 87 games and a 2.86 ERA in 528 innings over the course of four seasons. Those four exceptional campaigns just did not transfer in to MLB success.
In the mid-'90s, Pulsipher along with Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen were dubbed “Generation K.” Injuries derailed this would-be trio of future Hall of Famers, but there is more to the Pulsipher story than you may know.
It is uncommon to read or even hear about anxiety and depression in athletes, though more is coming to light with the heightened pressures of the game that these guys face in our society. But Pulsipher faced those demons after recovering from Tommy John surgery in 1995.
In a 2004 article with the Seattle Times, Pulsipher explained that after recovering from Tommy John in 1995, he did not make the team the following season, and with a history of anxiety in his family, it was only a matter of time before he felt the effects.
Over the next several years, this “can’t-miss prospect” became what many dread; a journeyman. Posting unremarkable statistics in Milwaukee, Boston, Chicago and St. Louis, a career that once showed so much promise faded out without much notice.
From 2001 to 2005, Pulsipher pitched for eight different teams ranging from MiLB, MLB and Independent ball. In the midst of this, he was battling anxiety.
Attempting to make it to the top of your craft is one thing, but battling your inner demons in front of thousands of people amplifies the effects more than usual.
Between Prozac and Paxil, Pulsipher found the correct dosage thanks to Dr. Allan Lans, the former Mets team psychologist. In an April 2005 article with ESPN, the reality of this was expressed:
I've learned so much throughout all this. I've learned that depression and anxiety is a real, medical issue. It can be treated, if you know how to ask for other people's help. Is there a stigma to seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication? I'd be lying if I said there wasn't, particularly in sports, but who cares? Would you rather be miserable all the time?
Since that article was published and since being released by the Cardinals, Pulsipher who obviously has huge passion for the game, has been playing in the Independent Leagues for the past seven years for Long Island, Yucatan, Puebla, Winnipeg and Somerset.
Thirty-four pit stops, and 18 professional years later, his playing days have come to an end, but his coaching days have just begun.
This game has now come full circle for someone who has seen the top and seen the bottom of what professional sports can offer. In 2012 you will find Bill Pulsipher as the new pitching coach for the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Independent American Association:
"He’s a huge addition to our organization and to say I am thrilled is an understatement,” Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said in a press release. “He has a lot to offer to young pitchers in our organization.”
The Independent league is truly what baseball is all about. It gives players who have a true passion for the game a platform to showcase their talents, and the opportunity to learn from coaches who have really made their mark in the sport one way or another.
Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective