NetShrine Creator & Curator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NetShrine WHQ
Get On The Bus, Bud.
Baseball should come up with some sort of spot award to be given to guys like Bus Campbell as a reward. They deserve that, at the least. Overdue, but, better late than never.
Mentor to the All-Stars
Bus Campbell quietly, and unselfishly, makes pitchers of Colorado youngsters
By Tracy Ringolsby, Rocky Mountain News
July 15, 2003
CHICAGO - Jamie Moyer was pondering life in the real world.
At age 29 and with nearly five years of big-league pitching on his resume, Moyer's career was going in reverse.
He had spent the bulk of the 1991 season at Class AAA Louisville and didn't even merit consideration for a call-up by the St. Louis Cardinals in September. Moyer had a family and a feeling he would be better served finishing his college degree and moving on.
But his father-in-law, longtime college basketball coach Digger Phelps, knew better.
When Phelps was at Rider College in the early 1960s, first as a basketball player and then as a graduate assistant with the basketball team, he befriended then-Rider baseball coach Tom Petroff.
Petroff had migrated to Colorado in the 1970s, taking over as baseball coach at the University of Northern Colorado, and he often regaled Phelps with tales about a man named Bus Campbell - and his magical touch with pitchers.
At Phelps' urging, Moyer decided to make one last grasp at extending his baseball career and came to Colorado in December 1991 to work with Campbell for a week.
"I was scuffling at the time," Moyer recalled recently. "I was looking for direction. I'd never heard of Bus, but my father-in-law was convinced Bus was the guy who could turn my career around."
Moyer, now the ace of the Seattle Mariners rotation, will be one of three Campbell proteges in uniform tonight for major league baseball's All-Star Game (6 MDT, KDVR-Channel 31), joining Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, an Arvada West High School graduate, and Colorado Rockies right-hander Shawn Chacon, a Greeley Central product who was voted to the game by his peers but won't pitch because he is on the disabled list.
Moyer, now 40, is the third-oldest rookie All-Star among players who did not begin their careers in the Negro Leagues. And he achieved that milestone with the help of Bus Campbell.
50-plus years of service
For more than 50 years, Campbell has been a pitching guru for Colorado youngsters such as Halladay and Chacon.
From humble beginnings in 1947, when he helped with a Police Athletic League team, Campbell has grown into the confidant of All-Stars.
Campbell declined invitations to attend tonight's game at U.S. Cellular Field. He's not much for the fuss and hustle of such events.
Campbell will see every pitch, however. He and his wife, Helen, will be glued to the television at their Littleton home, watching specifically for Campbell's former students.
"I think it's great," Campbell said. "All three deserve this recognition. They've done a lot with their careers."
All three are quick to credit the 82-year-old Campbell, a 1939 graduate of Manual High School, where, he said, he "was a catcher and not a good catcher."
After he graduated from Manual, he spent time in the Coast Guard and worked as a construction supervisor before returning to school and earning a degree in education from the University of Denver in 1959. He taught physical education in Denver schools from 1959-80 and was a coach at the University of Colorado and University of Iowa.
He scouted at various times for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays.
'Incredible judge of talent'
But Campbell has spent more time developing talent than evaluating it.
Virtually every pitcher who has come out of Colorado in the past 35 years has been touched by him.
"He's an incredible scout and judge of talent," said Houston Astros pitcher Brad Lidge, a product of Cherry Creek High School. "At the same time, he knows how to help guys mentally and physically with pitching. He's one of those guys who's been around the game so long he knows exactly what he's talking about. When he talks, people gather and listen."
How those people manage to gather around Campbell differs.
Moyer, for instance, was pushed by Phelps to explore how Campbell could help him.
Chacon was introduced to Campbell by his coach at Greeley Central, Mike Huston, who was a bird-dog scout for Campbell.
Halladay, meanwhile, began working with Campbell as a 12-year-old. Halladay's father was so impressed by a clinic conducted by Campbell that he asked Campbell to help his son.
"The thing I like the most is when I see a kid who has no chance (to succeed) and he winds up going to college," Campbell said. "I said a long time ago if I could help some kids, I'd do it. No one guy makes a pitcher or a player. They are a product of everyone who has touched their life. I just hope there's something I can do that helps the kid in life. I really enjoy working with the kids."
For the love of the game
It is definitely a labor of love.
"It's amazing how much time he has spent in baseball, and he still loves it," Halladay said. "Numbers of times when I was a kid, my dad would try and give him something, and he wouldn't take it. Even now, he won't accept anything. We have to think up ways to make sure he knows we appreciate his time."
When Halladay was drafted in the first round by Toronto in 1995, the Blue Jays scout for Colorado at the time was Campbell.
Halladay showed his appreciation by buying Campbell a grandfather clock. And, just this month, Halladay made a donation to a Heritage High School fund to build a scoreboard in memory of Randy Campbell, one of Bus' and Helen's five children, who died in 1987 from a brain tumor.
"He's like my grandfather, and Helen is like my grandmother," Halladay said of the Campbells. "He's pretty much been there, with my dad, helping me. He always seems to come up with a simple way to get things done."
Moyer smiles when recalling his visit with Campbell, who said that, to this day, he is notified each year by a charity about a donation made by Moyer in the Campbells' names.
But then, Moyer has reason to smile. His career was resurrected because of Campbell's tutelage in December 1991.
Moyer pitched at Class AAA Toledo in 1992 and opened the '93 season at Class AAA Rochester. But the Baltimore Orioles called Moyer up in the middle of the '93 season, and he has reamined in the big leagues.
Since joining Seattle in mid-'96, Moyer has been among the game's most successful pitchers. His 117-54 record since the start of 1996 represents the best winning percentage (.684) in the majors in that span.
'It all sounds so simple'
"I've always felt you have to be open to all options," Moyer said. "I remember first meeting Bus. He was unassuming. He wasn't brash at all. He starts talking mechanics, and it all sounds so simple.
"I'm in limbo, and he starts talking about how to take the ball out of the glove. We go through all the different parts of the delivery and refine it down to the fact that what it all starts with is how you take the ball out of your glove."
To this day, when Moyer has a bad game, he goes back to his time with Campbell.
After getting roughed up in a recent start at Anaheim, Moyer was on his knees in the bullpen at Edison Field the next afternoon, working on a drill that dealt with taking the ball out of his glove.
"The thing about Bus is, all he wants is to help you," Moyer said. "He doesn't want anything else. I remember going into Colorado during interleague play. I'd look for him. He'd pop up in the stands, wave and say a quick hello. That's the way he is."
Moyer has only limited contact with Campbell now, although he hasn't forgotten him.
"We do exchange Christmas cards," Moyer said, "and he's always bragging about his grandkids."
Halladay, however, talks with Campbell after every start - and sometimes in between - which is more common for a Campbell student.
Cal Eldred, who pitched at Iowa when Campbell was a member of Petroff's coaching staff at the school, still sends Campbell tapes to have his delivery broken down.
Youth still is served
And Campbell said he seems constantly to be working with 12 to 20 young pitchers from Colorado.
"When I was there, we drove up to Greeley for a clinic," Moyer said. "I watched him and I realized, 'This is his life.' He wants to be around baseball, and he wants to help kids. He doesn't want any credit or attention. He just wants to help."
And every kid gets the same effort that Campbell gives the big leaguers.
"My philosophy's always been, you don't cheat a kid," Campbell said. "I made sure I learned what pitchers are supposed to do. I try not to turn down anybody, and I've never charged a kid in my life.
"I don't feel I've ever done anything exceptional. I feel I've done what I wanted to do. Getting fame and glory for any of this stuff is something I don't care to do. I'm a loner."
But he is never alone.
There's always a Halladay, Chacon or Moyer waiting for a bit of Bus Campbell's time and knowledge.
Steve, Forum Administrator
POSTING TIP FOR THE DAY: When composing a post, think about what you would say if the intended recipient was an individual who was actually sitting just two feet in front of you, in person, rather than just some far away and anonymous audience who only can identify you as text on a PC screen - - and then write your post in that manner. It makes for remarkable and sincere discourse.