2013 MSBL Honor Roll Inductee: Tom Carlson, Lakeshore (WI) MSBL

By Steve LaMontia, MSBL National

Tom Carlson resides in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and has been an MSBL staple since the early 90’s. He is also a diehard Cubbie fan, with apologies to the Brewers. He is the residing commissioner of the newly formed Lakeshore MSBL League, which is a marriage of the six year old Kenosha MSBL and the long-standing Hector Espino League. They are also looking to expand the league to include Racine and Lake Geneva and become as big an MSBL force in Wisconsin as Milwaukee. MSBL founder and president Steve Sigler wishes to distinguish Tom as a new member of the MSBL Honor Roll and recognize Tom’s hard work. Tom was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

Biographical Information:

Your name:

Tom Carlson

City or town of residence:

Kenosha, WI

League name:

Lakeshore MSBL, formerly Kenosha MSBL

Town where league is based:

Kenosha, WI

Where did you grow up:

Skokie, IL

High school and college, if applicable:

St Patrick HS, Chicago, IL

CBC, Memphis, TN

What do you do for a living:

Work at Abbvie in Lake County Illinois

Family information:

I have a daughter who is a high school senior. She is involved in volleyball, softball, band and choir while maintaining her status on National Honors Society. I coached her in recreational, competitive and middle school softball programs. I’m very proud of her hard work as an athlete and scholar.

General Questions:

Describe your baseball resume: (list levels played, any major accomplishments, etc.)

I played baseball from Little League into college. Unfortunately there were no adult baseball leagues so I played and coached 12” slow and fastpitch softball for about 10 years. I also played a couple years of 16” softball but gave that up after too many broken fingers.

In the early 90’s I joined Milwaukee MSBL playing for the Dukes, Rattlers and Senators playing for about 10 years.

In 2001 I started coaching my daughter in T-Ball and co-ed softball. This quickly progressed to me becoming known as coach by many of the kids in town. Over the years I continued coaching recreational, competitive and middle school fast pitch softball. By freshman year my daughter determined that dad’s spot needed to be behind the backstop – I had to agree.

In 2006 Ched Ballard formed Kenosha MSBL starting with four teams. I joined the league the year it was created and became the league secretary. In 2011, I took over as league president. During the fall of 2012 work started to merge the Hector Espino Baseball league into Kenosha MSBL. Paul Settecase from the Hector Espino Baseball League and Steve Mancusi from Kenosha MSBL worked with me to create a semi smooth transition forming Lakeshore MSBL.

In 2006 Kenosha MSBL helped create the Kenosha Simmons Baseball Organization which is the group chartered with the preservation of historic Simmons Field in Kenosha. Built in 1920, Simmons Field is one of the only original ballparks of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, home to the Kenosha Comets as well as the former home to the Kenosha Twins and many other historical teams. I was responsible for managing field and park operations until 2012.

What is your greatest baseball moment, either watching or playing:

Playing baseball – I will always remember my Dad at the backstop of every game critiquing my stance at bat or calling out the play while I was a first baseman. Even as an adult I still hear his voice telling me ”keep my head on the ball” or “keep the runner honest”.

Watching a game – May 12, 1970, as Ernie Banks hit number 500 in the “Friendly Confines”. I was home from school and lucked out being able to watch the game that Banks boomed number 500. His dynamic personality on and off the field always impressed me and helped keep me a Cubs fan for life.

When did you start playing for MSBL and how did you hear about it:

I started playing in 1995 with the fledgling Milwaukee MSBL. I ran into Ed Heinzelman from the Milwaukee Dukes at a batting cage in Milwaukee. Ed proceeded to recruit me, the rest is history!

Do you still play:

Yes, I play in the Kenosha division on the Pirates. I’m a first baseman plus pitch my one inning a year to keep the batters honest. I love the competitive nature of the game and proving my mettle against the younger guys in the league. I’ve always said as long as I can walk, I will play the game.

What team and age bracket:

Lakeshore MSBL, Kenosha Division, Pirates – 18+

What is the best thing about your league:

Kenosha is a small tight knit community. Growing up in the Chicago area I have come to appreciate the bonds I’ve built in Kenosha. The guys in our league do a great job keeping it real and letting us know what works and what does not. Even in the toughest of times we walk away as friends looking forward to that next game or cold one to celebrate the victory/discuss the strategy of how the game could have been won.

What is the funniest thing you have ever witnessed on a ball field:

As a kid in Little League our team was up to bat, down two runs, two outs, runners on second and third. For some reason the batter decided to bunt with two outs, the catcher promptly picked up the bunt stepped on home then jumping up and down in celebration of the victory carried the ball back to the dugout and tossed it into the equipment bag. As the opposing team exited the field thinking this was a victory as our runners proceeded to clear the bases bringing the game to an end with a victory. Probably the more colorful part was watching the coaches and umpires having a very adult conversation on the rules governing a situation like this. Right or wrong the umpire considered the ball in play since the bag was outside the dugout and the player intentionally threw the ball into the bag. A true bad news bears moment.

Questions just for fun:

Who is your favorite player of all time and why:

Two players – When I was a young kid my Uncle introduced me to Gabby Hartnett one of the all-time great Cubs catchers. My uncle and Gabby’s son were best friends in school. He had interesting stories about the Cubs and baseball. A little on the gruff side but a nice old guy. Ernie Banks was by far my favorite player. As a kid he was the rare breed who went out of his way to spend time before and after games with fans. Ernie was the player you could always count on to put 110% into the game.

Who is the best player in the majors right now:

Miguel Cabrera is one of the best and has a bright future. Too bad he is not with the Cubs!

Who is the greatest pitcher of all time and why:

Satchel Paige. He was one of the all-time great pitchers. Unfortunately for most of his career he was restricted to the Negro League. Paige was able to competitively pitching until his 50s’. Just imagine the records he would have set if allowed to play in MLB in his 20s’!

Are there any additional personal comments you wish to add about your playing or life thus far:

Baseball has and always will be a part of my life. It has taught me to be competitive but realize that the end result is not always a mark in the W column. My goals in life are much like that where I follow my heart and dreams while striving to be the best I can on and off the field.

Are there any MSBL comments you wish to share:

I would like to thank Steve Sigler for developing MSBL from a group of friends playing baseball to a national program.

Ched Ballard was instrumental in bringing adult baseball to Kenosha a city with deep softball roots. His hard work to develop MSBL in Kenosha helped get our league to where it is today.

Most of all I would like to thank everyone from our players, wives, significant others and fans – without your commitment our league would not exist.