Bowman begins new baseball journey
For the first time since he was 3, Willie Bowman isn’t playing baseball.
Bowman, who was an All-American at Carson High School and played three years at UNLV, saw his playing career end because of a hip injury and a change in the roster limits for NCAA basebal teams.
Bowman had graduated from UNLV, but still had a year’s eligibility left. He opted to come to the University of Nevada, start work on a graduate degree and play with his cousin, Matt Bowman.
“I was so excited to be together again,” Bowman said recently. “We had a great time playing together again.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was three years old. The hardest part of this is I wasn’t able to go out on my own terms; to give it my all. It was taken from me because of NCAA rules and my hip.”
A new NCAA rule limits teams to carry 35 players in the program, and only seven can be walk-on players, including those on the Millenium Scholarship. There simply were not enough roster spots, and the fact that Bowman still wasn’t 100 percent healthy contributed to the decision. It’s a decision that Bowman understood. With roster limits in place, every roster spot is valuable. There is no doubt with no roster limits, Bowman would still be playing.
Bowman’s hip injury first started at the end of his freshman season when he started feeling abdominal pain.
“I was having chronic abdominal pain,” Bowman said. “I needed medication everyday to play. I was in pain during games. It was tough to play. I essentially played three season at 50 percent (health-wise). Think of the hip when you’re swinging a bat. I changed my swing. Obviously it affects you in the field. I couldn’t get to balls.”
“My senior year They (doctors/trainers) thought it was a hernia. They found out I had a hip impingement.”
An MRI later on determined that he had a hip degeneration issue, and Bowman said there wasn’t anyway to replace cartilage.
Bowman was determined to remain in the game, and with the help of Fred Repke, he landed an associate scouting job with the Tampa Bay Rays.
“He had scouted me when I was in high school, and we stayed in touch,” Bowman said. “I told him what was happening, and he made a call.”
Bowman will basically scout in Northern Nevada, though he said he has been to San Francisco a couple of times already. He won’t get rich, as associate scouts work on commission (players signed). He hopes to eventually move up the ladder to a part-time scout and receive a salary.
“I’ve been around the game,” Bowman said. “There are some things I have to learn (pitching).”
Bowman is giving personal lessons, and he also plans to give clinics to the Dayton Little League players and coaches either this Saturday or March 13.
“I’m working with three people (from the same family) and their ages range from 8 to 22,” he said. “We work on infield play and hitting. The oldest is a left-handed pitcher. He played one year of high school baseball. He’s throwing 82 or 83. He’s hoping to get into a junior college