- During the 2011 Major League Baseball Playoffs I met Tim Kurkjian! Though, I had been impersonating him around clubhouses for years, this was our first encounter. (at least him knowing my name anyway)
- Sitting in front of my Brewers locker in Milwaukee, I couldn’t help but notice an investigative Kurkjian slip into the clubhouse. He seemed like a man on a mission, walking around examining names above the lockers.
- Eventually, he read the name above me, and then fixed his eyes on the nervous sideburn infested pitcher below it. “Are you Tim Dillard?” squeaked the adolescent-pitched analyst.
- “I am.” I said, as I leapt from my chair and outstretching my hand. “How freakin cool is this?!” was my first thought. My second thought was “I should say something else, I’m creeping him out with my grin!”
- After I gave his hand back, Tim clutched his small notepad and said, “I heard you do a pretty good impersonation of me.” (insert “Embarrassed Face” emoji)
Suddenly I felt a lot of blood rushing to my face.
FAST-FORWARD to 2012. MLB Spring Training is highlighted every year by the ESPN Baseball Tonight Express Tour Bus that visits all 30 teams. While on the tour, host Tim Kurkjian found himself being imitated by different players all over baseball. I thought it was HILARIOUS until some teammates wanted me to do my impersonation on national television… and then… I just felt ill.
Since I had solidified myself as a “no-name” player in professional baseball, I was convinced ESPN had more important things to cover. So when Baseball Tonight showed up at Brewers camp early one morning, I wasn’t worried. As I entered the clubhouse about 6:45am I was met by the Brewers Director of Media Relations Mike Vassallo. “Hey Dilly, how’s it going? Aaron Boone and Tim Kurkjian are here, and they want you to make fun of Kurkjian on air in like 15 minutes.” Mike said very nonchalantly. Wait… What? (insert “Hurl Face” emoji)
You know that sinking feeling in your stomach when you’ve locked your keys in the car OR once again ate too much gas station sushi? I didn’t know what to do! I needed help! I needed something funny to say! I needed my think tank!
Enter John Axford and Kameron Loe. As they walked in the clubhouse, I stopped ’em and begged for help. Seeing my current state of desperation, they laughed at the situation and then started brainstorming. Loe suggested we make up a crazy statistic, and Axford started spitballing names for it. With only minutes left before being on-air, someone blurted out “I.M.P.L.A.T.S.” and we all laughed. Armed with an obscure stat with little or no meaning I walked outside.
Before I knew it, I was meeting the show’s producer, shaking Kurkjian’s hand again, and meeting Aaron Boone! I wanted to tell Boone he was my first strike out in the Big Leagues, but there wasn’t time for that. (self-five!) Nyjer Morgan took center-stage for his previous season playoff heroics.
The producer of Baseball Tonight gave me instructions to stand off-camera, walk into the interview, and take the microphone from Mr. Kurkjian on his cue. That seemed pretty audacious for me to do, so I began to suggest something else when I heard, “3…2…1…” (insert “Anguished Face” emoji)
As the segment was underway, the producer motioned for me to enter the screen. 50% excited and 70% nervous, I shook my head in a “please no” kind of way. He signaled me again, and again I hesitated. I think he was getting unhappy with me so I walked into the scene…
To this day, I’ve never met anyone with more love and passion for their job and for baseball, than Tim Kurkjian.