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The Brewers Can’t Let Tim Dillard Go (At Least Not Permanently)

As I write this on Wednesday evening, the Brewers’ AAA affiliate Nashville Sounds are playing their last game at Greer Stadium, which the team called home for 37 years.  They’ll start the 2015 season in a new stadium, which naturally was financed by the usual indefensible corporate welfare.

Leaving that aside, via Tom Haudicourt’s Twitter feed comes an interesting column by The Tennessean’s Dave Ammenheuser headlined, “Sounds’ Tim Dillard deserves Greer’s last pitch.”  In it, Ammenheuser says that no one is more deserving to take the final bow at Greer than Dillard, “the most familiar face in Sounds history.”

Since 2007, Dillard has pitched in 207 games with the Sounds, which is second most in franchise history.  He also leads the franchise in innings, victories, and is third in strikeouts.  Based on those numbers, it does seem fitting that Dillard should play some kind of sentimental role in tonight’s festivities.  If there had been a petition for Dillard to close out the game, I would have signed it.

Mind you, I had forgotten Dillard was still a professional ballplayer, much less still in the Brewers organization.  The thing I remember most about him was his knack for impersonating Will Farrell’s Harry Caray and Tim Kurkjian.

Ammenheuser’s column provides some background on Dillard’s recent professional endeavors, and indicates that for whatever reason – his magnetic personality perhaps? – the Brewers can’t let him go:

After the 2012 season, the Brewers released him. Looking for a job, he signed with the Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers, an independent league team. He was there for just six games in 2013 before the Brewers asked him to come back to Nashville.

The same scenario played out again last winter. With so many young talented pitchers in the organization, the Brewers released him. Again.

Many players would have called it quits.

Not Dillard, who again signed with Lancaster. This stint lasted only two games before the Brewers called again. This time, he was needed at Double-A Huntsville. At 31, he would be the oldest player on the roster. It didn’t matter. He said yes. […]

But when the Sounds put pitcher Ariel Pena on the disabled list last week, they needed another arm in the bullpen.

“All season I am thinking, ‘Man, I’d love to just be there for (the closing of Greer),'” he said. “Nothing sneaks by me. I knew about the bobbleheads, the (commemorative) T-shirts …”

Now he’s here.

Dillard makes his home in Nashville where he and his wife are raising two children.  At 31 years of age, it’s unlikely Dillard will make much of an impact in MLB.  It seems like a coaching career with the Sounds is in the cards.  Presumably the Brewers keep calling because they think Dillard will provide value to the organization in a role other than pitching.

Dillard’s production in 73 appearances at the major league level is nothing to get excited about.  He did have one major league victory during the 2011, so he can always take comfort in the knowledge he contributed to a winning team.  I suppose there’s a chance he could be called up to the Brewers when the rosters expand next week, but I haven’t read anything that suggests he will.

Since he seems like a swell guy, and he’s had some experience being a mentor and unofficial coach at the AA level this year, it would be a heartwarming story if Dillard could help develop players in Nashville.  That is, assuming he doesn’t decide to pursue a stand-up comedy career.  It might be worth a shot.  If he gives that a try and is unsuccessful, hopefully the Brewers organization will welcome him back with open arms and a steady paycheck.