By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communciations
John Linden is the President of the Mid-Iowa Baseball League located in Des Moines, Iowa and 2012 inductee into the MSBL National Hall of Fame. He is a 56 year old who plays for an unbelievable five teams in the league and finds time to make annual trips to the MSBL World Series in Arizona as well as participating at sponsored Las Vegas tournaments and the Fall Classic in Florida. John found the MSBL in 1997 and to say that he has jumped back into baseball with both feet is an understatement. John is a well deserved inductee into this year’s crop of Honor Roll recipients as designated by MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler. Posted below are a few questions we posed to John so that you may learn a little more about his passion for the game.
Your name: John Linden
City or town of residence: Polk City, Iowa
League name: Mid-Iowa Baseball League
Town where league is based: Des Moines, Iowa
Where did you grow up? Born in Omaha, NE, graduated High School in Sioux City, IA graduated College at Iowa State University, Ames, IA
What do you do for a living? General Manager for Robert Half/Accountemps Print Marketing Division
Family information: This summer will be my wife, Nancy, and my 35th Anniversary. We have a son Tanner, 25 that lives in Bloomington, IN and plays in the MSBL Indianapolis Adult Baseball League and a daughter Kristina, 21 going to school for Criminal Justice.
Describe your baseball resume: I did not play ball in college, somewhat of a regret. At the time, Sioux City and Amesdid not have American Legion ball or any semi-pro teams so back in the 70s and 80s fast pitch and slow pitch were the only avenue to get my diamond fix. I did that for 24 years before finding MSBL in 1997 and then I dropped fast and slow pitch that year and have played hardball ever since.
What is your greatest baseball moment, either watching or playing? Watching live, I was present for Roger Maris’ 51st homer in 1961. I also was present when Tony Oliva hit an in-the-park home run at Yankee stadium in 1964 burning Mickey Mantle. As a player, pitching a victory at Tempe Diablo versus a previous World Series F/S team (the opposing pitcher was drafted by the New York Yankees) In Center, Tanner tracked down three 390’ blasts I served up to help preserve the win. I also K’d a former UNLV player in that game. (I don’t think he had ever seen an Eephus pitch before).When did you start playing for MSBL and how did you hear about it? I heard about MSBL in 1997. Some neighbors had run into a few of their high school teammates who played in the league and we formed and became Charter members for the Iowa Oaks 28+ team.
Do you still play? I currently play for five teams. The 18+ Iowa Aces, 25+ Iowa Oaks, 35+ Des Moines Bulldogs, 45+ Des Moines Grays and the Des Moines Bruins (25+ or 35+) traveling teams. Some day I may actually play in my age group…
What is the best thing about your league? The people and participation, we encourage all skill levels to come out and enjoy the game we all love.
Do you participate in any MSBL national tournaments? I have played in 16 World Series in Phoenix(some years 25+ and 35+), seven Las Vegas Classics (all were 25+), several MSBL regionals all over the Midwest and was a member of the 2014 35+ Fall Classic Championship team in Florida.
Questions just for fun:
Who is your favorite player of all time and why?
Willie Mays. 3000+ hits, speed (300+ stolen bases), power (660 homers, 1990+ RBI), hustle/arm (7000+ putouts), 24 straight All Star games, and of course “The Catch”. In 1967 I made an an over the shoulder catch in center and after that play, my coach would greet me with “Say Hey”.Are there any additional personal comments you wish to add about your playing or life thus far? I have had three Achilles surgeries and keep rehabbing and coming back for more ball. I must be a baseball junkie. I think dirt is in my veins. I feel that is the case for most of the team mates I have been blessed to be around with over the years. It is a passion, a family, a life experience that has been so rewarding. My wife had cancer ten years ago, and my team mates were there for us. I have had team mates with cancer and have lost team mates and league members or umpires – we pick each other up. It is a community and a gift.
Are there any comments about MSBL you wish to share? Thanks to the many managers, board members and players in MIBL that truly understand the value and privilege we have to play the game we love. Stay healthy and have fun! – John