The Seattle Mariners drafted Dann Bilardello in the third round of the initial 1978 free-agent draft. He did not sign, and the Los Angeles Dodgers selected him with the 7th overall pick of the secondary phase of the same draft. Bilardello played his college baseball for Cabrillo Junior College. Previously, he played prep baseball for Marello Prep High School in Santa Cruz, California. His major league debut came on April 11, 1983, starting behind the plate for the Cincinnati Reds. In his first major league game, he went 1 for 4 with 2 RBI on a double, hosting the Chicago Cubs at Riverfront Stadium.
Dann Bilardello Career
Dann Bilardello spent 8 years on a major league roster, working as a catcher. Appearing in 371 games over the course of 8 seasons, he peaked during his rookie campaign of 1983. During that season, he slashed .238/.274/.389 in 298 at bats. Half his career home runs came during that rookie season. His major league career was upset by an extended mid-career stint in the minors, spending 1987 and 1988 playing in the lower circuits. His last stint in the majors ended in 1992, and by 1994 his professional baseball career was over.
Trades and Transfers
Dann Bilardello spent the first five years of his professional career playing in the Dodgers farm system. He saw time for the Lethbridge Dodgers, the Clinton Dodgers, the Lodi Dodgers and the San Antonio Missions, never reaching a level above Double-A for the Dodgers.
On December 6, 1982, the Reds selected him as a Rule 5 draftee from the Dodgers. He spent the entire 1983 season on the major league club, appearing in 109 games. 1984 and 1985 saw him split time between the Reds, the Wichita Aeros (1984 Reds AAA team) and the Denver Zephyrs (1985 Reds AAA team). On December 19, 1985, the Reds sent him, Jay Tibbs, Andy McGaffigan and John Stuper to the Montreal Expos. In exchange, the Reds received Bill Gullickson and Sal Butera. He split the 1986 season between the Expos and the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.
On March 22, 1987, he was sold by the Expos to the Pittsburgh Pirates. After 37 games with the Pirates Triple-A affliate, Vancouver Canadians of the Pacific Coast Leage, Dann Bilardello was sold to the Kansas City Royals. He finished the 1987 season with the Omaha Royals of the American Association. He played the entirety of 1988 in Omaha as well.
A free-agent at the end of the 1988 season, 1989 saw a contract with the Pirates. He split 1989 and 1990 between the Pirates and Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. After the 1990 season, he signed as a free-agent with the San Diego Padres. He split 1991 and 1992 witht he Padres and the Las Vegas Stars of the Pacific Coast League. The Padres released him in October 1992, and by December he signed with the New York Mets. He played the 1993 season with the Norfolk Tides of the International League.
1994 marked his last season in professional baseball. He played with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Independent Northern League.
The photographer made an odd decision with this shot. Upward angles are weird, and rarely are flattering for the subject. Alas, the photograph for card 577 of the 1987 Topps set made that weird decision. Dann Bilardello wearing only one batting glove in the shot is a second odd moment, as most other photographs of Bilardello show him wearing two. He is dressed in Expos home whites, but the background does not appear to be from Montreal. Based on the jersey, the likely location of this photo is West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium. A black sharpie signature pops the last name, but his first name is lost in the dark of the equipment behind him.