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Sunday, May 18, 2003
Buhler retired from Dodgers after 1995 season
LOS ANGELES -- Bill Buhler, who treated every Dodgers player from Gil Hodges and Pee Wee Reese to Mike Piazza and Eric Karros during a 39-year run that bridged the Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda eras, died Sunday at age 75.
Buhler, who retired after the 1995 season, joined the organization in 1952 as a minor league trainer. He was promoted to assistant trainer in 1957 at Brooklyn, then became head trainer in 1960 during the team's third year in Los Angeles. The Dodgers appeared in nine World Series during his tenure.
"Bill is the standard by which other trainers measure their skills,'' said Dodgers' team physician Dr. Frank Jobe, whose association with Buhler goes back to 1964. "He developed the job of athletic trainer in baseball, and most everybody does it pretty much the way Bill did it. I certainly learned a lot from him.''
Buhler also was an innovator. He was a part of the team that took care of pitcher Tommy John after Jobe performed the landmark reconstructive elbow surgery on the Dodgers pitcher in 1974 that extended his and dozens of big league careers.
When John was rehabbing his arm, Buhler devised makeshift instruments with rubber bands, enabling John to exercise his fingers when the nerves in the elbow were not functioning properly.
Buhler also was responsible for the "Steve Yeager Throat Guard,'' a protective plastic shield that hung from the bottom of the catcher's mask after Yeager was injured by part of a broken bat. Now the accessory is used by almost all big league catchers.
"He was a great man. Our paths crossed at different stages of our lives, but I know that Bill Buhler was a tribute to the Dodgers organization,'' said Florida Marlins outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, whose first season as a Dodger was Buhler's last. "I know he's got a lot of friends here, past and present. He has the respect of all the players, and that's just a tribute to who he is and what he was all about.''
Buhler was the trainer for the National League in the 1992 All-Star Game at San Diego, and in 1989 was voted Trainer of the Year along with assistant Charlie Strasser.