Baseball coach goes global

Pierce College Baseball Head Coach Bill Picketts in the dugout during a game against the Moorpark College Raiders in Moorpark, Calif., on Fed, 27. 2020. The Brahmas lost 9-1. Photo by Benjamin Hanson.

Pierce College baseball may only be known locally, but it’s head coach is about to stand on the world stage of America’s pastime. 

That’s because Bill Picketts will have the opportunity to coach Team Philippines in the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers.

Picketts learned about the job through his son. 

“My son wanted to play for the national team in the Southeast Asian Games,” Picketts said.” So he asked me to contact someone I knew. His name is Oscar Marcelino. “I’ve never met him in person, so we talked because my son is eligible to play for them, and then the WBC came up and they had struggles qualifying last time in Australia.” 

Pierce College President Alexis Montevirgen, who’s from the Philippines, is excited for Picketts.

“It’s a great honor to have our baseball coach being sought out to coach the national team for the Philippines. So, I’m wishing him the best of luck,” Montevirgen said. 

Montevirgen said there was a possibility for the national team to practice with the current Pierce baseball roster.

“It would have been a great opportunity for our athletes to interact with international athletes, but I’m not sure it will come to fruition. One of the challenges we have is the current state of the field,” Montevirgen said.

Picketts said his wife is also from the Philippines, so that opened a door for him.

He said the team didn’t have much discipline in the last qualifiers, which is something he wants to fix.

At first, Picketts doubted taking the opportunity because he didn’t know how the trip was going to be funded.

Once Major League Baseball cleared him to go, he traveled to Manila in January to see the team practice. 

Picketts said one of the problems is that they don’t play enough baseball in the Philippines.

“The college schedule is only 12 games while here we have 40, plus we play summer ball,” Picketts said. “They are right there, but are a couple of years behind so we need to get them back on track.”

Picketts said the association wants him to be more involved with developing baseball in the country.

He won’t be traveling all the time to the Philippines and said it won’t conflict with his schedule at Pierce.

Interim Athletic Director Susan Armenta said this is a great opportunity for Picketts.

“Whenever a coach or a player can go and get exposure in an international competition, they should take advantage of it,” Armenta said. “It also brings positive publicity to the college and athletics.”

Philippines are in Pool Two with Panama, Czech Republic, Spain, New Zealand and Great Britain. 

Next year’s World Baseball Classic had a change in format. In total, 20 teams will now participate in the competition.

There are 16 teams that have automatically qualified, and the remaining four will come out of the two pools competing in the qualifiers.

The roster includes Brady and Riley Conlan, Andrew Magno, Yuki Takayama, Chase D’ Arnaud and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. 

Picketts said he wasn’t too optimistic about getting Tebow involved with the team.

“I got his number from a close friend of his, so I texted him,” Picketts said. “After 15 minutes, I said it was a good try, however, he responded and was available to talk. After our conversation, everything fell into place and he committed to joining us. I am really excited for what he can do, especially helping out the younger players.”

The Philippines start their participation in the qualifiers against the Czech Republic. Winner of the game will face Panama, who has a bye in the first round.

All games will be live for free on MLB’s YouTube channel. The qualifiers start Friday, but the Philippines begin on March 20 against the Czechs.