By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
David Pratt is the president of the Red River Mens’ Baseball League located in the Shreveport, Louisiana area. He took over as president in 2009 when the league was struggling with only four teams and a bleak outlook. Going in to 2015 the league now boasts fifteen teams in three divisions with growth on the horizon. For his efforts, MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has recognized David for his hard work and passion by naming him to the 2015 class on the MSBL Honor Roll.
Your name: David Pratt
City or town of residence: Shreveport, Louisiana
League name: Red River Adult Baseball League (RRABL)
Town where league is based: in and around Shreveport, LA, the area known locally as the Ark-La-Tex…this includesNorth Louisiana, East Texas, and Southwest Arkansas. We have teams from all three states participating in our league.
Where did you grow up? Born in Ravenna, Ohio, but grew up in Houston, Texas (moved to Houston when I was 6 years old).
What do you do for a living? I’m currently in my sixth year at Whitlock & Shelton Construction, Inc., a commercial construction company. I am an estimator and project manager. However, I credit my previous positions as Assistant Director of Athletics and Sports Information Director at Centenary College with developing my sports administration capabilities that help me, everyday, as president of the RRABL.
Family information (if you wish to share this): wife of 13 years, Keeley, and three daughters: Addison (8), Morgan(6), and Brynnan (3). None of them care for baseball, or really any sports for that matter. Keeley is a dance instructor and all of my girls eat, sleep and drink dance. The MSBL is my way of hanging on to my baseball addiction as well as my manhood (just kidding…but, not really). My wife understood how important baseball was to me when she met me, dated me, and married me and she has always agreed to co-exist with me and my baseball obsession. I am very thankful to her for that. I don’t think she imagined it would turn into running the league, but she has coped with that as well. Haha.
Describe your baseball resume: (list levels played, any major accomplishments, etc.): Although I play second base now (arm is not keeping up with the rest of my body), I am a switch-hitting shortstop by trade. I was an all-district selection in high school and I went to Texas Christian University (TCU) to play ball. After two years there, I attended Alvin Junior College for a year, and then finished up with two years at Centenary College, where I was named Defensive Player of the Year.
On a side note:
At TCU,Nolan Ryan was our volunteer assistant coach fresh off of his retirement from the MLB. His oldest son, Reid, now president of the Houston Astros, was also a coach and his youngest son, Reese (Owner and CEO of the Round Rock Express) was a teammate of mine. It was Reid that urged me to attend Alvin Junior College (Alvin is the Ryan’s hometown), which led me to Centenary, which led to meeting my wife, staying in Shreveport, and later becoming president of the RRABL. I really appreciate Reid’s guidance during that time period and I owe a lot to him for helping me make that decision.
What is your greatest baseball moment, either watching or playing? The game of baseball has brought me so many great moments, from playing, to watching, coaching a small amount, and administering it, that I don’t really know that I could single out just one. Just being a tiny part of the baseball world is awesome.
When did you start playing for MSBL and how did you hear about it? I started playing in the MSBL at the age of 26 in 2002. Back then our only age division was 30+, but you could have three exceptions ranging from 27 to 29. I was turning 27 later that year, so I qualified. I hadn’t played since graduating from college. A co-worker of mine walked into my office and said he had heard I played college ball and he wanted me to play on his team. He explained the league to me and I was all in. I hadn’t heard about it until that moment. That gentleman and I are still teammates on the same team to this day, going on 13 years later. It’s been a great ride.
Do you still play? I sure do! I look forward to it every weekend.
What team and age bracket? We have changed sponsors over the years, changed our team name and uniforms just for the sake of mixing it up from time to time, but I still play for the same franchise, so to speak. We were the Cubs, then the Rockhounds, the Hounds, and now we are the Outlaws. Even though we have grown from one 30+ division to four divisions: 21+ Shreveport, 21+ East Texas, 35+ Overall and 45+ Overall, I still enjoy playing in the 21+ division.
What is the best thing about your league?I think the best thing about our league is that we all seem to share the same vision for the RRABL. We have been lucky that most players get why we are out there playing and they understand how lucky we are to still have the opportunity to play. To get out of the house, get some exercise, hang with the boys, and have it all be centered around the game we grew up loving, is truly a blessing. Of course, there are always the players that lose control from time to time, or get too upset about an umpire’s call, but I am happy to say that those incidents are few and far between. My goal has always been to keep the drama out of the league, and I think we have done a very good job of that, which is a credit to everyone involved.
I’m also very proud of the level of commitment and loyalty that the players and coaches display by returning year after year to continue participating in the RRABL. The league, founded in 1993, fell into some hard times around 2008. The number of teams had dwindled from 10 when I started playing in 2002 to four after the 2008 season. When I became president shortly after that season, we were in a sink or swim situation. We banded together, set a course for where we wanted the league to go in the future and set out to make it happen. We have been growing every year since. Last season we had 19 teams. We could not have accomplished growth like that without committed coaches and players, help from field owners, umpires, and many other countless contributors.
Do you participate in any MSBL national tournaments? I have played in several weekend regional tournaments, and we hosted one ourselves for a few years, but I have never made it to a national event. It’s on my bucket list, but it hasn’t worked out with work and what we have going on with the family at those times of the year. However, our league has sent several players as individuals and they rave about how wonderful it is. I am and always will be jealous of them until I get to experience it myself one day.
Questions just for fun:
Who is your favorite player of all time and why? I am a diehard Astros and Rangers fan, having lived many years in the viewing areas of both teams. I tend to gravitate to the guys that played hard all the time, were loyal to their teams, and just got their jobs done quietly without seeking out the lime light. For those reasons, the player outside of my hometown teams that I admire the most would be Cal Ripken, Jr. We played the same position and I like how he handled his business on and off the field. Along those same lines, my favorite Astro is Craig Biggio and my favorite Ranger is Michael Young. All of those guys are great role models, handle everything with class and lead by example. Each of them are Hall of Fame material for many obvious reasons.
Are there any additional personal comments you wish to add about your playing or life thus far? I really have played my whole life purely for the love of the game. I played years and years of year-round baseball growing up, summer and fall non-stop. In all that baseball, I only played on one championship team, the 1987 Giants in the Bronco Division (11-12 year olds) of the Alief Youth Association, which is probably why I can recall that season so easily. I went on to play in high school, summer high school leagues, college, and summer college leagues and none of those teams were even competing with a legitimate shot at a championship, though some were above average. That amount of losing will run you off if winning is the only reason you play. It teaches you to really appreciate the game and the joys it brings on a daily basis though, and I am very thankful for that. I must add, the opportunities did eventually come to win championships when I joined the RRABL. It was worth the wait as I have been lucky enough to enjoy four league titles, three more runner-up finishes and two regional tournament championships in the last 9 years alone. I guess good things really do come to those who wait.
Are there any comments about MSBL you wish to share? I’d like to thank Steve Sigler on behalf of our league members for founding this great organization and allowing us to be a part of it. I, personally, don’t know what I’d do without it. Thank you Steve for all your hard work and the guidance you give to your members. A big thank you as well to all of the MSBL National staff and the many league presidents who sacrifice, exponentially more than most players realize, to provide a quality league for everyone who wants to play ball. I appreciate all of you.
In addition, I lost my father this last summer. I would like to thank him and my mother for instilling in me all of my better qualities in all facets of my life. I thank them for playing catch with me when I asked, I thank them for driving me and my two brothers to what must have seemed like a never-ending amount of practices and games, and I thank them for always supporting us. These kinds of things aren’t said nearly enough, no matter how much they are said. I love you both!