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League of the Month: Southern Senior Baseball League (Huntsville, AL)

By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications

The Southern Senior Baseball League (SSBL) operates out of Huntsville, Alabama and currently maintains three age divisions: Over-30, Over-40 and Over-45.  Over-25 players are allowed in the Over-30 division with minor playing restrictions.  

Players and teams come from the north Alabama and south Tennessee areas with their games played in Alabama in the cities of Huntsville, Madison and Decatur.

Phil Ellis is the current league president, a role he accepted in 2011 after being a board member since 2007.  "We anticipate 15 teams this year and are proud of our growth.  We kick off around June 1st and continue through mid-August.  This should be a fun year, capped off by our annual Rocket City Classic tournament over Labor Day weekend in Huntsville.”

The Southern Senior Baseball League can trace its beginnings to the Spring/Summer of 1990. Steve Parker placed an ad in the Huntsville Times instructing anyone Over-40 interested in forming a baseball league to report to the Johnson High School for an organizational meeting. This nucleus of players gathered on successive weekends to practice and play baseball. After a couple of weeks their numbers had swelled to enough to form four teams.

The first couple of seasons had unique rules; no single individual could pitch over three innings in a game and teams used four outfielders on defense. In 1992 the league joined the MABL/MSBL organization and was one of only two stand alone Over-40 leagues in the nation.  The league continued to grow and by 1997 they allowed Over-30 teams to participate. Members and teams from the SSBL have participated in the MSBL Arizona World Series, the MSBL Fall Classic and regional tournaments in Atlanta and Puerto Rico. They also host the Rocket City Classic, an annual Labor Day Tournament that attracts teams from throughout the Southeast.

”The network of opportunities for players and organizations to participate in baseball is unrivaled in the MSBL,” explained Ellis.  "The personal interest that Steve Sigler takes in the success of our local league positions it for success.”

Managing this league and coordinating the Rocket City Classic every year must take a lot of time.  Any advice for other managers across the country? 

"Delegate responsibility to trustworthy members and give them the authority to operate accordingly.  Continue to keep in touch, as personal as possible, with all members of your league.  If you are sincere about each player’s involvement with the league, it should show. 

Try not to take advantage of the players that are willing to help you.  The majority of players simply want to play, but a very select few will step up to help in all the necessary background activities.” 

Here is the link to the SSBL website: http://www.eteamz.com/southernseniorbaseball/ Also, if you wish to find out more about this year’s Rocket City Classic in Huntsville you can e-mail Phil at pellis@knology.netor call 256-837-8490.

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