Michael Bollmer was a two-way player, a power hitter and a shutdown pitcher, with a promising college baseball future when he committed in 2013 to play at the University of Louisville. Dreams of greatness were reasonable for someone blessed with his talent.
Fate would intervene, however, with a series of injuries forcing Bollmer to the sidelines. Today, the UofL senior is finally healthy, pulling for his team, hoping his name will be called. He will be ready if and when Coach Dan McDonnell beckons.
Bollmer was catching the eyes of pro scouts at Lexington Bryan Station when he was recruited by McDonnell. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder batted .424 and posted a 4-2 won-lost record, with a 2.15 earned run average his senior season.
“When UofL was recruiting Michael, they were recruiting him as a pitcher and a first baseman,” recalls his father Bob Bollmer. “He was one of the top pitchers in Lexington coming out of high school. He was the Fayette County Player of the Year and he was first team All-State during his junior and senior years. We were really looking forward to watching him at Louisville.”
Two weeks before the beginning of the 2013 season, Michael would tear his UCL in his pitching arm. The injury would require Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss his entire freshman year. After recovering from the arm surgery, he would hurt his back lifting weights, herniating a disc, requiring him to have two back surgeries the same year.
“Michael tried to come back in 2014 but he really wasn’t ready,” said Bob. “I think he batted once that season. He really couldn’t work out much with the team because of his back.”
He played in nine games during in 2015 and, after injuring an ankle, appeared in only three games during his redshirt junior season in 2016. “That was another major setback,” said his dad. “He had been playing well in the fall.”
One month before the beginning of this season, Michael’s best friend (Cameron Hart) in high school, also a baseball player, was killed in an automobile accident in Lexington. Michael was a speaker at the funeral. “I dedicated this season to him, and he’s my ‘why’ for this season,” said the UofL reserve.
Michael has played in 14 games this season, with five hits in 17 at bats, including a three-run home run against Morehead State. He was actually going to get to start a game on Senior Night against Florida State but, as fate would have it, the game was rained out and cancelled.
“It has been one thing after another, but Michael has never questioned whether he went to the right school,” said his dad. “He loves his team and he loves the school.”
Michael, who’s brother Bob, Jr. is also attending UofL, received a Bachelor’s degree in sports administration and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in special education. He learned Spanish in early grade school and believes it will enable him to help more people. He intends to work with special education students and possibly become an athletic director.
Michael says he has no remorse about missing out on a professional baseball career. “Pro baseball was very much on my mind, but I think everything has worked out the way God wanted them,” he said.
He remains enthusiastic despite all the setbacks and confident that he can still contribute during his final weeks with the UofL baseball program. “That’s just how I was brought up, to finish what I started,” said Michael. “I have become brothers with my teammates and I want to do anything I can to help them get better.”
Despite his lack of playing time, Michael will be ready if McDonnell needs him during the post season tournaments. “I’m always ready, locked into the game, ready to going in and make a difference, no matter what,” he said. “I have all the confidence in the world. I will be ready.”