By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Gary Gomez is the 54 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 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.
MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has recognized Gary’s dedication by naming him the most recent addition to the 2015 class of the MSBL Honor Roll. Gary was courteous enough to answer a few questions for us so that we may learn more about the man behind the league. His responses are listed below.
Your name: Gary Gomez
City or town of residence: Auburn, Alabama
League name: Billy Hitchcock Men’s Senior Baseball League
Town where league is based: Auburn, Alabama
Where did you grow up? All over the world. My father served in the US Air Force and I was fortunate to experience life in many states and countries. I spent my high school years in Montgomery, Alabama.
What do you do for a living? I retired from the US Air Force after 24 years of service. I’m currently employed by Delta Air Lines as a pilot.
Family information: Wife: Dr. Caroline Gomez. Children: Tommy (30), Patrick (24), Mitchell (19)
Describe your baseball resume: High School, Junior College, Japanese Amateur League, MSBL. No major accomplishments (always a suspect, never a prospect)
What is your greatest baseball moment, either watching or playing? After coaching all my sons during their little league years, I never dreamed I’d get an opportunity to play side by side with any of them at a competitive level. The MSBL has made that possible. My greatest baseball moment happens every time I step on the diamond with my son Tommy. We’ve been playing together in our local league for 13 years. I look forward to many more years of hearing his encouraging words from first base while I’m on the mound.
When did you start playing for MSBL and how did you hear about it? 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.
Do you still play? Yes!
What is the best thing about your league? We are a small market league, and as such, we don’t have the numbers to sustain multiple age divisions. Although an 18+ league, we have men in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s playing together. We adopted a special, local league rule that requires “senior” pitchers (28+) to close the last 3 innings and beyond of all games.
Do you participate in any MSBL national tournaments? Fall Classic (since 1999) World Series (since 2010) Palm Springs (2012) Las Vegas (2015)
Questions just for fun:
Who is your favorite player of all time and why? Jim Palmer. I tried to emulate his pitching style when I was young. I showed up day one in a new league and started following thru with my warm up throws like Palmer. The coach asked me if I was a pitcher, I said yes (I lied; I had never been on the mound before at that point. Remember, suspect, not prospect!) I got my first opportunity to pitch because I was a good actor! My nick name quickly became “balk” because I had no clue what I was supposed to do on the mound . But I could throw the ball and I loved being up there. I’ve been working on it ever since.
Are there any comments about MSBL you wish to share? I have met some of my best friends while playing in MSBL tournaments. 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.