55 year old Mike ‘Pank’ Pankow is a fixture in the Tri-Valley MSBL in California during the year and has been a consistent MSBL World Series participant over the last 23 years, while winning ten rings and playing in a remarkable 21 championship games. His MSBL career began in 1994 in San Jose. ‘Pank’ is a pitcher and middle infielder who has never refused the ball. “My record on the mound in Arizona is 49-7 in all games and 18-2 in the ‘win or go home’ games, which I am very proud of,” said Pankow.
For his 23 years of World Series passion and achievements, MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has inducted Mike into the 2017 class of the MSBL World Series Hall of Fame.
Mike is a construction marketing and sales representative who lives in Shingle Springs, California and is the proud papa of three beautiful and sports oriented children, Shane (23), Brett (21) and Julia (18), who just received a Theater Scholarship to Pepperdine University. Shane and Brett can be found playing alongside dad in the World Series Father/Son divisions.
His serious baseball efforts began at Cal State Hayward and continued into a sprinkling of some semi-pro years in San Francisco and San Jose, alongside some pretty good company. “I was the designated bench warmer while suiting up with guys like Jerry Royce, Willie McGee, Ken Caminiti, Keith Comstock, John Wetteland, Gary Alexander, Steve Howe and Mike Norris, where I got the nod to throw extensive batting practices over them!”
Mike won his first MSBL World Series ring with San Jose in 1994. “That excitement has made the regular season and tournament accomplishments, All Star selections and multiple championships all just seem like warm ups for October in Arizona,” explained Pankow. “I became obsessed with helping others win their first ring. That first one is the one where you remember everything about your experience, such as your teammates, memorable plays, the dinners, and even the weather. This motivation had me play every single year in Arizona as if it would be my last!”
‘Pank’ continues to play in MSBL tournaments in Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Woodland/Davis and Arizona, mostly with Tri-Valley and in the 45s, 50s, 55s, with his favorite division being the Father/Son division.
23 years of World Series competition certainly lends itself to many personal highlights. “By far the highlight of any MSBL achievement is the bonding you have with teammates and my opponents,” said Pankow. “I have brought many of them to games in my ‘Baseball Limo’. As a failed standup comedian I like to think that I bring comic relief to our games, perhaps as our Mascot, and as a reminder to all that we are here for the camaraderie, fellowship, love and spirit of competition. The highlights to me are the greetings before and after every single game, and reminders that we are “Playing” during the games. I live for these moments, I love my brothers and I tell them!”
A journey of this length is never made alone. Many players and friends have been associated with ‘Pank’ along the way. “The list of people to thank is lengthy and some may have been inadvertently left off but I couldn’t have made it this far without the help and support of Mike Protheroe, Leo Costa, Loren Peterson, Tim Garrett, Gary Powers, Mike Reinert, Steve Reno, Gary Stonebrook, Marty Schroedter, Art Scears, Panos Lagos, Denny Brown, Skip Stephens, Val Lewis, Jeff Gardenhire and Steve Sigler. If not for the aging divisions, talent levels, and creative thinking of Steve then several thousand of us would have stopped playing long ago, whereas we now look forward to being the “Young Guy” again!”
What does this award mean to you? “Honestly, this award is more of a justification than a celebration. It justifies that I made many decisions to participate in baseball, when the responsible thing would have been to take care of other responsibilities. It represents much success at the expense of ill feelings and hardships. I have played with so many talented players that cut their amateur careers short due to similar decisions, and I so respect them for their responsible choices. I will celebrate this award with my teammates, my children, and those who helped make this happen.”