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Gary Gomez: 2016 MSBL Hall of Fame Inductee

 

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

Gary Gomez is the 55 year old president of the Billy Hitchcock MSBL located in Auburn, Alabama.  This seven team, 18-over league boasts a family atmosphere and welcomes players from 18 to 60 who all participate together because of their love of the game.  Gary is a veteran of the MSBL World Series in Arizona as well as the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, the Fall Classic in Florida and various MSBL Las Vegas tourneys.  He is also retired US Air Force and has seen five tours of Iraq and Afghanistan during his 24 year career in the military.

For his hard work, Gary has been inducted into the 2016 class of the MSBL Hall of Fame by MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler.  His unselfish dedication as league president and his contributions to many MSBL regional and national tournaments made Gary an easy selection.

"This honor validates the efforts and sacrifices that have been made to build the league,” stated Gomez. "But it’s not just me.  It awards all of the people who help run and play in this league.  It is also a motivator to help grow this league and make it the best it can be. I’m tickled pink.  I will share this with everyone in our league who have kept it going throughout the years.  This is a team award.”

Gary retired from the US Air Force after 24 years of service and is currently employed by Delta Air Lines as a pilot.  "Fortunately my length of service at Delta allows me the time off to play in many MSBL tournaments.  I hope to continue to play at the World Series, Fall Classic, Desert Classic and other regional tournaments.  I don’t see an immediate end any time soon.”

Gary’s family includes his wife Dr. Caroline Gomez and sons Tommy, Patrick and Mitchell.  "A couple of the boys are elite marathon runners,” added Gomez.  "I am extremely proud of their accomplishments and dedication.”

Gary’s MSBL career started way back in the infant years.  "I found the MSBL in 1988 when stationed at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas.  A new league was forming and I was recruited by a fellow service member that I played softball with.  Since that first encounter I have played with the MSBL in San Antonio, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia before starting our league in Auburn.”

The Billy Hitchcock league is now fifteen years old and provides a place to play for anyone between the ages of 18 and 60.  They are technically an 18-over league but their players represent all ages.  They wanted to make the league accessible to anyone who wanted to play, regardless of age. So how does he keep the older guys coming back while the young guns find the league?  "First of all we are exclusively wood bat,” explained Gary.  "That slows things down a little. We also instituted a Senior pitching rule. In the last three innings of a nine inning game all pitchers need to be age 28 or over.  I enjoy still trying to catch up to an 85 mile per hour fastball but this rule was necessary to keep things even.  I continue to coach and manage the Plainsmen in our league and am pitching under that same rule.  It’s been very well received.”

As the president of the league, is there a deadline for wanting to step down and let the next generation take over.  "I retire from Delta in ten years and at that time Caroline and I will see if we should stay here or start the next chapter of our lives.  It’s safe to say that I’ll be handling things here for the next decade, but I'm always on the lookout for my replacement.”

Final thoughts?  "I have met some of my best friends while playing in MSBL tournaments and in the league.  I cherish every moment with these guys and look forward with great anticipation to the next time I can join them playing the game I love.  Being a part of MSBL has legitimized our local league.  We wouldn’t be able to secure a single field without being a part of MSBL. We just finished our fifteenth year and MSBL has helped me achieve all of the baseball goals from when I was a kid. I finally found a vehicle.  I am honored and thankful to be recognized by the organization that has given me a chance to be that kid.”     

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