Billy Rasmussen has been around the game of baseball all his life. In fact, he doesn?t even remember when he first picked up a bat or started to play tee-ball. He just remembers how much he loves the game.
Born in Rochester, Billy was surrounded by the Yellowjacket pride of his father, Dick Rasmussen, who earned his Masters Degree at UR in 1972. Dick was also the head coach for UR?s baseball team for 14 years and later became the Commissioner for the University Athletic Association. Despite his father?s intense passion for both the game and UR, Billy never felt pressured to play baseball.
?He never pushed me to do anything I didn?t want to do,? Billy said. ?I just grew up around the game and always wanted to play.?
This economics major has been making a mark at UR since his freshman year ? especially in the eyes of former coach Bob Hartz.
?Billy came in freshman year as a part of the starting line-up and never left it,? he said.
?I remember I realized how good Billy is during 1998, when he stepped out of his shortstop position to pitch and he shut-down a good hitting team like Clarkson [University.]?
?I really miss coaching him,? Hartz continued. ?On top of the fact that he?s the best player on the team, he?s polite, respectful to others and a true gentleman.?
?If I ever had a son, I would want him to grow up just like Billy,? he said.
Hartz is not the only one who recognizes Billy?s versatile athleticism and genuine nature. Teammate and third baseman junior Kris Kiefer agrees.
?Bill has this uncanny ability to make plays in the field that no one else can make,? he said.
?For example, a lot of teams make lazy pop-flies that are straight above the third baseman?s head, toward the left-fielder. Billy would make a leaping catch in between me and RJ [Johnsen] and save the play,? Kiefer continued.
?That?s the kind of move that makes him one of the best shortstops that I?ve ever played with and it?s really fun to watch him play,? he said.
Kiefer also remarked on the friendship he has had with Billy over the last three years.
?Aside from admiring his skills, I really appreciate his approach to life?s typical stresses,? Kiefer said. ?He is always there to listen and to give advice,? he continued. ?He really know what he wants out of life.?
And baseball is definitely one of the major things Billy wants out of life. He proven to be a valuable Yellowjacket during his UR career.
Aside from being co-captains with catcher senior Dan Kernan, he is a consistent hitting threat for opponents this year, racking up a .667 slugging percentage, nine runs batted in and 16 total bases during UAA championships in March.
He registered a .441 batting average and led the team in slugging and on-base percentage last spring.
In an attempt to stop his offense, pitchers would try every type of pitch possible ? even the wild ones. But instead of taking some heat off his swing, the pitchers helped Billy break the school?s record in hit-by-pitch, finishing with 12 in 1998.
This year has shown no signs of exception.
Billy?s achievements have catapulted him to be one of seven Yellowjackets who received the Garnish Award, an honor from the Department of Athletics and Recreation for academic and athletic excellence.
But Billy has earned more than one recognition from UR. In 1998, he was named Team Rookie of the Year. He went on to be named Athlete of the Week twice and a member of first-team All UAA in 1999 and 2000. He was also a member of the first-team All University Collegiate Athletic Association, the Team Defensive Player of 1999 and the Team Most Valuable Player in 2000.
?If there ever was to be a golden boy, it is Billy Rasmussen,? outfielder sophomore Matt Davison said. ?He?s a great role model and the epitome of achievement.?
Davison could not be any more right about Billy?s accomplishments. Billy?s track record speaks for itself.
In his four years at UR, Billy has contributed immensely not only to the baseball team, but he has also shown dedication to helping others ? both his Psi Upsilon fraternity brothers and members of the Rochester community.
He maintains the fraternity house during the summer, and as an assistant scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop, Billy plans outings and organizes fundraising projects. He is also an instructor at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School?s baseball camp, helping kids become better baseball players by planning skill and technique lessons.
However, this ?superman? does have a quirk, as some teammates confessed.
?Billy has this popcorn fetish,? Davison said. ?I will definitely miss watching movies in his room and eating bags and bags of that stuff.?
As expressed by Davison, Billy will be missed in experiences both on and off the field. And Billy reciprocates the sentiment.
?I will miss being part of the team, the friends ? to be able to compete with this great group of guys,? he said
But Billy will not step away from the diamond for long.
?I hope to be able to teach and coach at the high school level in the future,? he said. ?No matter what I do, I will always stay close to baseball.?