Philadelphia Bill Kirk, W’05, was all packed and ready to begin his life in the “real world” when he received the call that he had been waiting for his entire life. The six-foot-four right-hander from Haddon Heights, N.J. signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies organization on Aug. 14. Kirk joins fellow former Quaker, Josh Appell, in the professional ranks in the sport he loves.
“It is great that Josh and I are now getting a chance to play baseball for the teams we grew up loving,” said Kirk. Appell, a Woodmere, N.Y. native, signed with the New York Mets organization earlier this summer. “I’ve grown up in South Jersey and had Phillies posters on my wall my whole life. I still have a Lenny Dykstra poster on my wall today, so not only getting the chance to play ball professionally, but to do it with the Phillies organization is just amazing.”
Kirk had worked out for the Philadelphia organization in Lakewood, Pa. in June. Scouts were interested but the fateful day did not come until this past Wednesday, Aug. 10. Kirk worked out in front of scouts at Citizens Bank Park, the same day he was to begin training in New York City for a job for a consulting company. “I was up front with the company and told them this was a great opportunity and they understood. I told them I would take a train to Manhattan that evening. My bags were packed, suits and all,” Kirk described. He never made that train.
The Phillies thought highly of the hard-throwing hurler and three days later, he received the call. Kirk signed a 2006 minor league contract on Aug. 14. This means he will either be dispatched to a fall instructional league in Clearwater, Fla., or will report to the club’s spring training site in March.
“I’m so glad for him. It is great that the work he put in for four years paid off,” said Kirk’s former Penn pitching coach, Bill Wagner. “I think he deserved to be drafted. It would have been a real shame if he had fallen through the cracks. He has the possibility of being a great set-up man in this game. He is athletic and has a rubber arm. He was the best defensive pitcher I coached in 34 years.”
“I couldn’t have done this without Wags. He stayed optimistic and, by doing so, kept me optimistic. He was on the phone every other day, looking for spots for me to work out. Both he and Coach [Bob] Seddon were very supportive throughout the process and were there at my work out last Wednesday.”
Kirk finished his career with the Red and Blue with 95 strikeouts and 137.2 innings pitched. During his senior campaign, he was second on the team in ERA and co-led the squad in complete games.
Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications