Bordley's story unlike any other in MLB history

Angels were punished for tampering with lefty, who eventually joined Secret Service

February 1st, 2017
"I was the big fish in that Draft," said former USC phenom Bill Bordley, reflecting on 1979. (USC)

Bill Bordley took a trip back in time this week.
While a sophomore at the University of Southern California, Bordley declared for the 1979 January Draft, which has since been eliminated. In the secondary phase of that Draft, which was for players who had previously been drafted but had remained unsigned, Bordley was chosen third overall by the Reds.
However, the night before, Cincinnati had told Bordley that the team would not take him because of the bonus it would take to keep him from returning to USC.
An investigation by Major League Baseball into the matter eventually resulted in Commissioner Bowie Kuhn finding the Angels -- who had picked after the Reds -- guilty of tampering. The Reds were awarded the Angels' second-round pick in the regular phase of the June 1979 Draft (the Angels had lost their first-round pick for signing free-agent pitcher Jim Barr on Dec. 3, 1978), and the Angels' top two picks in the secondary phase.
"I was the big fish in that Draft," said Bordley. "Dallas Green was the general manager of the Phillies, and he was going to Draft me with the No. 1 pick. But they knew I had some reservations with some things going on at home with my dad and brother and felt a need to stay close to home."
Bordley's father had suffered a heart attack and was scheduled for a four-way bypass. His brother, who had played a year in the Minor Leagues, was paralyzed in a May 1978 auto accident. The Phillies, Blue Jays and Reds had the first three selections in the January Draft, leaving the Angels as the first West Coast team with a pick.
Kuhn, however, took exception to a meeting between Bordley and Angels general manager Buzzie Bavasi following Bordley's workout for scouts earlier that winter. USC, after winning the College World Series, had gone on a tour of Japan, and questions were raised over Bordley's drop in velocity.
"The scouts wanted to see me work out, so I pitched in a Winter League game at Cerritos [College]," Bordley said. "There were around 60 scouts there. Afterward, an Angels scout pulled me aside and said Buzzie wanted to talk to me, so I went [to Anaheim Stadium] and talked to him.
"He didn't promise anything, but reassured their interest in me. That's when I said I was going to hold out and wait for a West Coast team to draft me."
Bordley eventually was awarded to the Giants -- one of five teams which agreed to a minimum signing bonus of $150,000 that Bordley agreed to in order for there to be a drawing for his signing rights. The others were the Dodgers, Mariners, Royals and Brewers, which had selected Bordley with the fourth overall pick when he came out of high school in June 1976.

"The Giants got pulled out of the hat," said Bordley.
The concern scouts had about Bordley's velocity during that Japanese tour proved real.
Bordley's professional career lasted fewer than five seasons, although in his second year, 1980, he did appear in eight big league games, making six starts for the Giants. He underwent Tommy John surgery the following season.
"I was the fourth player to have the surgery," Bordley said.
Bordley retired after a brief effort to revive his career by pitching for Monclova in the Mexican Summer League in 1983.
"Joe Torre invited me to Spring Training with the Braves that year, and I couldn't make it," Bordley said. "Ray Poitevint was a scout with the Brewers and told me to go to Mexico and see if I could do anything. I couldn't. I had to have a meeting with myself and move on with life."
Thirty-four years later, Bordley has no regrets. His life has certainly taken a different path. After his playing career ended, he finished his education at USC and became a Secret Service agent. He supervised the Secret Service detail for Chelsea Clinton while she attended Stanford.
He served as vice president of security and facility management for Major League Baseball, and he is currently the sports council for the Knights of Columbus. In that role, he is in Houston for events that included a visit to an elementary school with NFL legend Anthony Munoz on Tuesday.
"To be honest, the game gave me everything, and it continues to do that," Bordley said. "Sure, I would have loved to have been a 20-game winner and played in a World Series. But in the overall picture, I'm forever in its debt.
"The game gave me an education at USC. It gave me financial independence since my early 20s. There is not much outside of on-the-field success the game could have given me. I have been very fortunate."
Even the opportunity with the Secret Service was born out of baseball.
"I was recovering from the surgery in 1981, and with the Giants for a series against the Mets at Shea Stadium," said Bordley. "President George H. W. Bush was the vice president at the time and came into our locker room with the Secret Service detail.
"I started talking to [the agents], and I think I left them tickets for the game. When I went back and got my degree in finance, I put in for the Secret Service. And after a two-and-a-half-year background check, I got on."
The ride hasn't always been smooth, but Bordley is the first to admit it has been rewarding.