By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
55 year old Darren Fleming has been a member of the So Cal MSBL since 1991, has been the manager of the So Cal Jays since 1992 and remains the current league vice-president to So Cal legend and president Dennis Swartout. Darren has also been participating in the MSBL World Series in Arizona since he started playing in the So Cal MSBL in 1991 and was a 2011 inductee of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame as chosen by MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler. To put the cherry on top, Darren has been chosen to become a 2015 member of the MSBL Honor Roll.
We recently contacted Darren for some background material and some insight from this long-standing and extremely successful member of the MSBL family. I hope you enjoy his thoughts.
Submitted by Darren Fleming, ‘in his own words’
I reside in Ontario California, moving there in 1987, and was born and raised in Los Angeles. My first MSBL team was the So Cal Pirates in 1991 and have been a member of So Cal MSBL, which is based out of Orange County, since 1991. In 1992 I left the Pirates to help start the So Cal Blue Jays, the team I still manage 23 years later.
I’ve been to Arizona to the MSBL World Series every year since joining MSBL and even before my daughters Delise and DeAna were born! I have fortunately participated in so many championship games in Arizona that I seriously cannot remember them all. When I first started playing, the 28 Division Championship Game was shown on a cable station, but we lost that game against an ex-Major League pitcher!
I am a retired Peace Officer from the California Department of Corrections. I’m a divorced Father of DeLise, age 20, and DeAna, who is 18. I played my college ball as an outfielder at Southwest Junior College in 1978 and 1979 and CSULB in 1980 and 1981. I was signed by the San Diego Padres and went to spring training with them in 1982. I was released by them and was signed out of a try-out Camp later that year with the Detroit Tigers as a left handed pitcher. I was invited to their big league camp in 1983 but my professional playing career ended in 1985.
I was fortunate to sign as a professional scout in 1986 with the Atlanta Braves. At this same time I was the head baseball coach at Serra High School in Gardena, California. I then signed a scouting contract with the Kansas City Royals in 1988 and worked with them through 1991. I left this career in 1994 and got involved in law enforcement with the California Department of Corrections and decided to make my career in law enforcement. But I never quit playing and coaching! I now coach at the Major League Baseball Urban Academy in Compton, California. I Work as one of the instructors while still managing the So Cal Jays in the So Cal MSBL going on my 24th year.
Last season, the week before we started our local league play, I was working with a college kid throwing batting practice in a cage. I failed to remove the protective screen in the cage with me and a line drive deflected off a pole. It struck me in the left eye, causing some damage to my retina. Needless to say, it was time to hang them up. I had a great career and have no regrets!
As I reflect on some of the great moments in my journey, one that sticks in my head was while I was playing at Long Beach against USC in 1981 in a night game. In the stands was my grandfather who was a die-hard Dodger fan, my uncle, who never missed a baseball game of any kind, and my dad. My grandfather couldn’t see that well but when he heard my name he was as proud as could be. We had three generations all together at my game. My grandfather unfortunately passed away 18 months later but he was one of my biggest supporters.
The So Cal MSBL is a unique league being situated in Southern California. There are so many distractions and there are so many former professional players who could all be doing something else, but they would rather come play a game which we all played from the time we could walk.
What makes our Jays different, I think, is that we“Play the Game the Right Way”. No running up the score, no superstar treatment, we are family first and the Jays second. We all love and respect the game.
One last thing. I have seen tons of baseball over the years and the best amateur player I have ever seen and played against is Darryl Denekee from South Dakota. In nine years as a professional scout, and all the years of playing, he was the one man who could do it all! He hit like Barry Bonds, was as strong as David Ortiz and could pitch like Jack Morris. Years after playing against him we talked and he ended up never playing pro ball and played just a little college. Darryl was one of the best players I ever competed against and if it wasn’t for MSBL I would never have found him again.
I guess I like Baseball a little!