Billings Sketching A Path To Success

WEST SACRAMENTO - The monotony of a long baseball season can be broken up in several ways. Sacramento River Cats' starter Bruce Billings uses art to help pass the time and amuse his teammates. Billings has a 41:15 K:BB ratio this season and has allowed one earned run or less in four of his last five starts. Billings and his artistic right-arm could be heading to Oakland before season's end.

With four days between outings, many starting pitchers develop side hobbies to maintain their sanity throughout the lengthy baseball season. Many play guitar and others take advantage of Netflix's extraordinary selection. Sacramento River Cats' hurler Bruce Billings has resorted to his childhood passion of drawing to pass the time.

Billings' sketch of Sacramento teammate Sonny Gray. Many of Billings' creations can be found in the Media Gallery of Billings' Twitter account, @BrucieJr.

"I've been drawing since I can remember," Billings said. "My dad would do construction jobs and he would have these big pieces of paper he would use for blue prints...I used to take a couple of sheets and cover the whole thing with a scene from Ninja Turtles or a Star Wars scene."

Lately, Billings has gifted social media with a slew of iPad-created caricatures of teammates within the organization, many of which the players have used as their Twitter avatars.

While the right-hander enjoys the light-hearted reactions from his teammates he gets from his comical illustrations, his love of creating art came from his family's appreciation for it.

"My mom, my sisters and my brother loved seeing me draw. I loved the way it made me feel to see them happy with what I did," Billings said.

"I just kept doing it and practicing and learning new tricks from watching cartoons or reading comics, I'd look at different styles. Now I just do it for fun. I still get that same feeling when I draw something for somebody and they really like it."

Because of his love for Star Wars as a kid, Billings said one of his favorites he's done this season was a depiction of Evan Scribner, draped in the famous Boba Fett getup. Other honorable mentions include a drawing of Michael Taylor as "The Black Power Ranger."

Billings and Taylor have been roommates for the last few seasons and the 6'5'' Taylor has been the subject of a number of his pieces.

Twitter has given Billings (@BrucieJr) an outlet to showcase his more elaborate drawings as well. Most are highly detailed and well-shaded portraits of super heroes or family members. But there's also a great depiction of a collision at home plate between a base runner and catcher with an umpire in close observation. In the background are a number of expressive fans anxiously awaiting the call. That sketch was made with graphite pencil, according to the tweet containing the picture.

Another interesting piece is a person falling through toward a group of skyscrapers emerging from a layer of clouds. That drawing took three different types of pencils and was finished on February 26 in a Starbucks in San Francisco.

"Just when you have free time in the clubhouse," Billings said. "I like drawing when I want to keep my mind clear – give me something to focus on until we stretch or until the game starts."

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