Brothers doing it big

In Sports, Spring Sports
Younger brother Tyler Pill tags out the runner on a pickoff play last year. Tyler played for the Titans from 2009-11 and his older brother, Brett Pill, played with CSUF from 2003-05.

Last year was a great year for brothers Brett and Tyler Pill. For both of them, it began with a phone call that opened the door to the next step of their careers.

In September 2011, Brett Pill, 27, former Cal State Fullerton baseball player from 2003-2005, was called up to the big leagues by the San Francisco Giants. He received the phone call to pack up his stuff and get on a flight because he was going to his first Major League Baseball game as a professional player that afternoon.

Brett’s younger brother Tyler Pill, 22, a Titan baseball player from 2009-2011, would receive a call that informed him he would be drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.

Brett and Tyler both grew up playing baseball. They started at a young age thanks to their father, Mike Pill. Mike was also a baseball player who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and would play in the minors for two seasons. They would learn at a young age that the most important thing to know when playing baseball was to have fun.

“My dad never put pressure on us. He always wanted us to have fun. We would be outside practicing for hours having a good time and wouldn’t realize how long it had been,” said Brett.

Though both played baseball at CSUF and eventually ended up in the pros, they both took different journeys to get there. Brett would play baseball for the Titans on a partial scholarship. He was part of the 2004 Titan team that won the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

“Winning the World Series is something that I will never forget. You start practicing in August and you go all the way until June, and to be able to win and take that with us makes it worth it,” Brett said.

Brett would finish his time at CSUF and be drafted by the San Francisco Giants. While Brett was playing in the minors, Tyler would make his way to CSUF another way. Tyler was drafted out of high school, but decided to play baseball for the Titans.

“CSUF was always a top program and, with my brother going there, I got to see how the program was run and how everything worked. I liked it, and it made me want to be a part of it,” said Tyler.

Tyler would play three seasons for the Titans before being drafted by the Mets.

“It was exciting and I was nervous waiting, but when you get the call you’re just honored that you were recognized,” Tyler said.

As for Brett, he would end up playing 15 games in the 2011 MLB season for the Giants, garnering a .300 batting average, 2 home runs and 9 RBIs. In those 15 games, he would get his first career start at first base and would have a memorable first at-bat in his first Major League game by hitting a home run off the San Diego Padre’s Wade LeBlanc.

“You always play that moment in your head (where) your first hit in the big leagues is a home run, but when it actually happened, it was a crazy, ” Brett said.

The Pill brothers have been able to have successful careers and both move on to continue playing a sport they love. Even though they had different journeys getting there, it both started with having their family encouraging them.

They both continue to come back to CSUF to work out in the off-season, where they lift weights and use the batting cages. When they can, the Pill brothers work out with one another.

“Brett took him (Tyler) under his wing this off-season and showed him how to work out and eat, and Tyler was able to gain some weight before he left for camp,” said Kelly Pill, their mother.

Both were able to play on the same team in the Cal State Fullerton Alumni Baseball Game in February.

“It was nice being able to play with Brett on the same team, but weird at the same time to know you’re done and moving forward and starting a career,” Tyler said.

The Pill brothers have now begun preparing for their respective seasons as professional baseball players. Tyler left for spring training in Florida to get ready for his first full season.

Brett also left for spring training and is in Scottsdale, Ariz. They’re both excited and can’t wait to keep working. With their strong family bond, their father, Mike, feels that he has been able to help them along the way by “keeping everything in perspective.”

“They both are very optimistic about this season and just hope for the best, and Tyler feels you just got to have fun and don’t have any regrets,” said Mike. “It’s not going to last forever.”

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