Mosiello has coached many, but no one like Helton

By Steve Williams

Bill Mosiello has coached baseball all over the country. From the West Coast to the Carolinas and from Cape Code to Ole Miss.

He’s now back at Texas Christian University as a hitting coach and associate head coach, after having been the Ohio State head coach the past two years.

Having grown up in California with former Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano, Mosiello has coached at UT two different times.

His first arrival in Knoxville was in the summer of 1992 before Todd Helton’s freshman season with the Vols.

UT Head Coach Rod Delmonico and Assistant Coach Larry Simcox told Coach Mosiello about Helton, who was a football / baseball star and a second round draft choice of the San Diego Padres.

“They told me we got to make sure he goes to school (and not the pro baseball route),” recalled Mosiello, who worked with hitters and pitchers that season. “Luckily, we had the football card going for us because he was a great quarterback.”

Mosiello had just been a 27-year-old assistant at Cal State-Fullerton, which finished as the national runner-up to Pepperdine in the 1992 College World Series.

“We had the first pick in the MLB draft in Phil Nevin on that team at Fullerton, so I had just come from coaching the best player in college baseball,” recalled Mosiello. “I knew what a great player looked like. I was looking forward to the challenge (of coaching Helton).

“I remember the first time I was ever in a batting cage with him. We were in the football indoor facility, hitting in cages. And I said to myself, this is the best hitter I’ve ever seen. When I told some people that back home in California, they thought I was off my rocker. They’re like ‘How can you say that? You just had the best player in the country.’

“And I said I don’t know, there’s just something different about him.”

With Helton and future major league star pitcher R.A. Dickey on the team, the Vols made their first trip to Omaha since finishing second to Oklahoma in 1951.


Todd’s ‘politeness’ impressed California guy

“What really impressed me about him at that time was his politeness,” said Mosiello. “I was from California and I had never met kids that said ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am.’ And called girls ‘darling.’ He was such a polite kid with such amazing character. His mom and dad (Martha and Jerry) had raised him so awesome.

“I didn’t know about the South,” added Bill. “The only South I knew about was seeing it in the movies. It was just super refreshing to me to know this guy was a superstar high school athlete but didn’t act like it.

“We hit it off pretty good right away. Maybe he had a little respect for me, knowing that I had just coached for a national title, where we had lost a 3-2 heartbreaker. And he knew I had coached a No. 1 player in the draft. I’m not really sure; I can’t speak for him. But I was enamored with him immediately by his politeness and how kind he was and respectful. Man, this is one special kid.”


When Helton reached out to Mosiello

“Throughout his major league career, we would talk three or four times a week,” said Coach Mosiello.

But after hitting over .300 each year in his first 10 full seasons in the majors, Helton hit only .264 in 2008, the season after the Rockies had played in the World Series.

Helton reached out to Mosiello and asked if he could come and work with him on his hitting.

“My whole family went and we homeschooled the boys and I trained him during the season in Colorado. We had to fight to get him back on track. He had a back surgery so he had a lot of work to be done. I was so fortunate that he wanted me to be out there in the off-season with him. He hit .325 the next season.”

Todd thought a lot of Mosiello as an expert hitting coach.

“We’ve had a great relationship since 1994, so you’re always proud of that,” said Bill. “I’m very thankful for all he has done for me.”


Mosiello names his third son ‘Helton’

What were the reasons for naming your third son after Todd Helton?

“I was so proud of the person he was and the great worker that he was,” answered Mosiello. “He’s an amazing competitor and I mentioned earlier about his character and politeness. He was everything that you want your kid to be. I’ve had a lot of special players, but there was something about him that was so unique.

“I just thought Man, if I can help my kid be 50 percent of the type of person that he is, I think I’ll do a good job as a father.

“His baseball exploits were a plus. I just liked his hard work and politeness. I liked everything about him. This is how I want to raise my children.

“I was lucky to have three boys and the third one I named Helton in respect to him and to thank him for what great things he had done for me in my career.”

Helton was “around 4 to 5 years old” when he knew he had been named after a big leaguer, said Mosiello. “He turned 17 this past February. He’s an aspiring golfer.”

Unfortunately, he suffered a severe knee injury when he was around 12.

Mosiello’s middle son is Gehrig (named after Lou Gehrig) and is an assistant coach for Serrano at Johnson University. His oldest son Shane (named after Minnesota Twins player Shane Mack) is an ICU Nurse.

Helton is skipping a major golf tournament to be at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown on July 21.

“He wouldn’t miss it for anything,” said his dad.