My high school is not known for great sports teams – at least not to my knowledge. Supposedly the soccer and football programs were pretty good a half-generation before us – say, about 10 years before I was there, which would have lined up nicely with when some of our then coaches were attending the school – so who knows if there’s any truth to that.
Wait, I take it back – we had a very good women’s basketball team, if I recall.
But I digress – not much of note has come out of John Foster Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Texas. I grew up in Sugar Land for the most part, which lies in Fort Bend County – just to the southwest of Houston, and one of the main (and fairly well off) suburbs. I mention well off, because frankly speaking, we know it takes money to play competitive baseball now, with all the travel leagues and whatnot, on top of general equipment.
While the area has produced plenty of baseball talent, and even some major leaguers, most of that talent went through our main rivals, Clements and Elkins. According to baseball reference, Clements has produced two major leaguers – Matt Albers and Mark Quinn – along with another 10 players that went into pro ball. Elkins has done even better, producing four big leaguers: Kip Wells, James Loney, Chad Huffman, and Matt Carpenter, and another five players who advanced to pro ball. That last list includes Wardell Starling, whom I recall as a two-sport star, but primarily as a gangly, 12 year-old pitcher and the pride of the 1995 Little League World Series Champions.
Dulles, on the other hand, has sent seven guys into pro ball. I was certain that list included my friend and high school teammate Billy Mohl, who pitched at Tulane after we graduated. But while Billy was selected in the 25th round of the 2006 draft by the Phillies – ten rounds after they picked one Riley Cooper, of whom you football fans ought to be familiar – he didn’t sign. Cooper didn’t sign either, for what it’s worth. In fact, out of the Phillies picks through the 33rd round, only Mohl, Cooper, and Brian Billings (31st round) didn’t sign.
But only one Dulles graduate has touched the major leagues, and I say touched in the most fleeting sense. That would be Philip Joseph Barzilla
, a lefty-lefty pitcher who predated my time in high school by just a few years. Following his time at Dulles, he pitched for two seasons at Alvin Community College before transferring to noted baseball powerhouse Rice University, where he spent two years on the roster in the bullpen. At Rice, he finished with a 7-2 record and 14 saves in 93 innings across 55 games, notching a 2.52 ERA. You can find those stats in the middle of this PDF
recapping the baseball season following his senior year. He was picked in the 4th round of the 2001 draft by the Astros, which had to be a cool feeling.
On June 6, 2006, Houston placed Roy Oswalt on the 15-day DL and purchased Barzilla’s contract from AAA Round Rock. He was 27.
Philip appeared in a total of one game, pitching just 1/3 of an inning and facing a total of two batters. That game was on Sunday, June 11, 2006
– a 14-4 rout of the Braves at Minute Maid Park. Barzilla came on with two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning, allowing a single to Atlanta’s Brian Jordan before inducing a fly out to center field by Braves catcher Todd Pratt (who was pinch hitting for Brian McCann). Despite being up 14-4, Houston sent utility man Orlando Palmeiro to pinch hit for Barzilla in the top of the 9th, and sent Dave Borkowski out to finish the game.Edit: you can watch all of Philip Barzilla’s major league career in this clip on YouTube – which appears to have maybe been uploaded by Barzilla himself, and is most definitely set to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla.”
The Astros optioned him back to AAA on June 14, 2006, and that was the end of his major league career.
Phil was actually at the Legends Weekend event in 2017 – which should tell you a little bit about how much the “Legends” tag means, but he does have the second-shortest appearance by an Astro ever, so I suppose that’s legendary in a way. Larry Yount’s misfortunate Astros career consisted of getting injured whilst warming up, but he had been announced and was throwing on the mound, so he was technically entered as appearing in a game.
I got a signed team-supplied postcard of Phil at that event.. He has exactly one Astros card, from the 2006 Topps ’52 Edition set, which has three parallels – Chrome, Refractor, and Gold Refractor versions. They haven’t been the easiest to find, although I haven’t really been aggressively hunting them.
Well, I finally tracked a copy down – I think I threw it in a Sportlots order, and hunted down an address so that I could send it to him in hopes of an autograph. I dropped that in the mail in mid-June, and three months later it came back – no return letter, which I was hoping for, but a lovely signed card for my Astro-graphs collection nonetheless.
Barzilla’s card is obviously a photoshop job. I’d had my suspicions, but it was confirmed when I stumbled across this photo of him with AAA Round Rock while writing this post.
Philip pitched in the minors through 2009, before spending a season with Veracruz of the Mexican League and then finishing his baseball career with the Brother Elephants of the CPBL in 2011. Here’s his only card with that team, from the 2012 CPBL Player of the Year set.
Phil also played for the Italian team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, which was managed by longtime Astros bench coach and minor league manager Matt Galante, and featured fellow Astros Mark Saccomano, Mike Gallo, and Dan Miceli.
There’s still hope for Dulles to have another major leaguer amongst their alumni, as well, although it may be slim. Galli Cribbs, finished 2018 at the AA level with Arizona. He’s listed as a “second baseman – outfielder – shortstop” however, and hit just .211 in 96 games in his age 25 season. It’s not a great shot, but I’m pulling for him now.
This has been your September TTM Report. Yep, just one card – but a pretty cool card for me.