Inside Preps: Thunder's Bullock Reaches 500 Wins
Thu. February 14, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
Lake Region pitcher Jacob Kelly was on top of his game Monday night, striking out 10 on his way to a 1-0 complete-game victory over Sebring at Avon Park's Early Bird tournament. He just wasn't on top of the fact he was delivering his head coach Bill Bullock win No. 500.
"I wanted them to just play the game. It was such an intense game that I wasn't thinking about it," Bullock said. "I didn't tell any about it before the game. You don't want to jinx the players."
Actually, the humble Bullock didn't want to be recognized for the coaching feat at all, but I told him it was out of my hands. You win 500, we find out, you get recognized. Let's just say it is a rule.
"I'm a little superstitious. It isn't about me. It's about all the players I have coached," Bullock stated in an email he was hoping would deter the acknowledgement of his coaching milestone. And then he tried to the same thing by a phone call.
Sorry, we're superstitious about not recognizing major milestones.
Bullock started coaching high school baseball 37 years ago at Ed White High School in Jacksonville in 1976.
"One of the coaches who coached me at Florida Community College (Jacksonville) became the AD at Ed White, and he asked me if I wanted to coach the baseball team," said Bullock, who tallied six consecutive district championships at the school.
Bullock eventually coached at West Nassau (Callahan), Kathleen, Polk State College and Fort Meade before moving on to Lake Region in 1995, where he amassed a 276-194 record. And just an FYI: Bullock's 500 wins are all on the prep level. They do not include his three years at Polk State.
During his coaching career Bullock has guided more than 100 players who have signed college scholarships or professional contracts, including giving former Kathleen head coach Alan Mills, who pitched for the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, his first start on the mound.
"It was 1983, and he was a junior and had never pitched before," Bullock said. "We didn't have any pitching. I told him he was going to pitch and he didn't want to. But I told him he was and he made the big leagues."
Over the course of 37 years, Bullock said there haven't been many changes, but he did recall a time when things were a bit simpler.
"Back in the old days you could play more high schools. There were no little starting dates," Bullock said. "The first year I coached, the team we were playing was 17-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state, and it was our first game of the year."
Bullock also noted the metamorphosis of players and coaches gravitating toward just one sport.
"Kids today are very specialized," Bullock said. "You play an entire schedule in the spring, an entire schedule in the summer, and entire schedule in the fall. We play almost year round now."
Bullock said he has no plans of hanging up the spikes.
"As long as you enjoy doing it and you feel your having an impact on kids, you'll continue on," he said.